Prepare for Citrusocolypse
It’s every Arizonan’s duty to be able to recite the 5 C’s like the ABC’s: Cotton, Copper, Cattle, Climate, and CITRUS!
In the early years of Arizona’s history, citrus was a major player in the fate of Arizona’s economy. Citrus was brought over to the Southwest in the 18th century by Spanish settlers. As grapefruit in particular gained popularity during the 1930s, more than 1 million crates of grapefruits were produced by our state in the year of 1935.
The industry flocked to Arizona, landing mainly in the Arcadia and Mesa areas, where many groves are landmarks for historic neighborhoods. The sprawl of these neighborhoods and urban areas in general encroaching on farmland is largely why orchards declined heavily in the 1990s.
Our warm and sunny climate creates a perfect incubator for sweet, juicy citrus of many varieties. Today, shoppers at Phoenix Public Market can find tangelos, kumquats, ruby reds, and so much more in overwhelming abundance at every grower’s stand. The ubiquity of citrus in our Phoenician lives can make the fruit mundane and cumbersome, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy it and reap the nutritional benefits–it’s time to get creative!
Read on for 4 ways get excited about our prolonged and plentiful citrus season…
Seek a new variety
Ever heard of yuzu? This particular citrus variety has a very tight season and is only grown by a few select growers who save and shelter their seeds, but they are worth the hunt! With a floral and botanical scent – much like jasmine – the juice lends a tart and bright nuance to anything it touches.
What about limequats? At the Community Exchange Table, find baskets bursting with these little oblong balls of sour-sweet treasures. Just like a kumquat, the whole thing is edible, rind and all! The not-too-bitter and extremely thin rind makes this citrus ideal for marmalade and baking.
At the Golo Family Farm table, James offers a slice of sweet lime to just about everyone who passes by. Biting into a lime slice is something one would normally reserve for a tequila shot and a lick of salt, but sweet limes are mild and sugary so that they burst with a lovely limeade flavor!
Don’t hate – dehydrate!
Citrus begs to be dehydrated. The intensity of flavor and the anatomy of the fruit make it easy to simply slice, lay out, and enjoy. The bitter rind mellows out in the process and the sugars in the juice crystallize, creating a natural candy out of any variety. Add these morsels to granola, quick-breads, and salads for a burst of citrus flavor.
Even better, these jeweled rounds make great decoration, and they smell good, too! String them on some twine and nestle some creosote or eucalyptus between them for a beautiful and fragrant decoration in your home.
Dehydration comes easily in a state with more sunny days than not. Simply cut citrus into thin slices, arrange without overlapping on a rack, and place in the direct sunlight until they’re dried out. It is also easy to dehydrate citrus and other fruits and vegetables in the oven on a rack for a couple hours at 200 degrees. Dehydrators are easy to come by at yard sales and thrift stores now, too, which make dehydration as simple of a flip of a switch and an hour’s time.
Juice, Juice, Juice!
Juice is the obvious way to get some citrus in you. But how you utilize the juice is another conversation! Create your own custom margarita mix using lemon, lime, and a little blood orange juices for something new and delicious. Freeze the juice into ice cubes to add to fruit punches and water bottles. Boil the juice down into a syrup and add it into cocktails or honey for a touch of sweetness.
Make household cleaners and skin products
Mother Nature Network listed 25 ways to use lemon juice around the house for a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, and stain-lifter! Add the zest to sugar and coconut oil for a quick and easy uplifting body scrub. Also, citrus is great for compost as it repels many pests and contains a lot of acid. Just make sure to cut the rind into smaller sections to help the breakdown process.