Citrus is a big family, like apples. Let’s see how long of a list I can name: lemons, limes, navel oranges, grapefruit, ugli fruit, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pomelos, tangerines, and mandarin oranges.
While there are a lot of different types of citrus, nutritionally they are similar: a source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and other vitamins and minerals, a source of carbohydrates and fiber, and no significant amount of sodium, fat, or protein. One medium navel orange contains around 60 calories, 15g carbohydrates, and 3g fiber.
- Buy: Citrus comes in several forms: fresh, canned, and juiced (fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable). Shop for fresh citrus in winter months when it is in-season, and buy fruit that is firm to the touch, with a slight give. Avoid fruit that is overly soft or molding. For canned citrus, buy brands that are packed in 100% juice or light syrup instead of heavy syrup. Some brands may pack fruit in alternative sweeteners, if you prefer those. With juiced citrus, buy brands that are 100% juice, instead of fruit juice cocktails or juice drinks that add sugar.
- Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh tangerines average $1.48 per pound, fresh oranges average $1.10 per pound, and fresh grapefruit average $1.01 per pound. Ready-to-drink orange juice and grapefruit juice both average $0.42 per 8-ounces (or 1 cup). While USDA did not compare canned citrus, check your local stores to check prices. Remember, fresh citrus will be cheaper in winter months.
- Store: Fresh citrus can be stored at either room temperature or in the refrigerator, though refrigeration tends to keep citrus at peak quality for longer.
- Prepare: Wash fresh citrus under cool water before peeling. Once fresh citrus is peeled and once canned citrus jars are opened, any extra not eaten right away needs to be refrigerated in a covered container. Shelf-stable juices will need to be refrigerated once opened too.
- Eat: Sweet citrus, such as oranges and tangerines, are tasty to eat with a meal or as a snack. Both sweet citrus and sour citrus, like lemons, are great in savory recipes, desserts, and marinades. Try the Honey Glazed Carrots in this post for an easy and quick side dish.
Honey Glazed Carrots (serves 6)
1 lb fresh baby carrots
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp butter (or margarine)
2 Tbsp honey
- Wash hands.
- Place carrots in a microwave-safe casserole dish and add water. Cover and microwave on high for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Set carrots aside.
- In a separate microwave-safe bowl, stir the orange juice and cornstarch until smooth. Add the butter and honey and microwave on high for 30 seconds or until the mixture is thick.
- Drain any liquid from carrots. Add the honey mixture to the carrots, cover, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Serve hot.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 120 calories, 6g fat, 180mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 2g protein
- Michigan State University. Citrus Fruits. 2018.
- Produce for Better Health. UC Davis Postharvest Technology. Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Best Flavor. 2012.
- Texas Cooperative Extension. Safe Handling of Fresh Oranges. 2004.
- University of California. Oranges: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy. 2006.
- University of California. UCCE Master Food Preservers of Orange County. Oranges. N/D.
- USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27
Healthy Eats and Repeat
How much difference is there between canned and frozen foods? How should you cook venison? When is the best time to buy avocados? Get answers to these questions as well as other tips, tutorials and recipes for common kitchen foods and items with University of Illinois Extension Nutrition & Wellness Educator Caitlin Mellendorf’s blog Healthy Eats and Repeat. Build your best life. Trust Extension to help.
Caitlin Mellendorf is an Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties in Central Illinois. She is a Registered Dietitian and her work focuses on helping community members gain the knowledge, skills and tools to live healthier, more nutritious lifestyles. This includes providing programs and answering questions about heart health, diabetes, food safety, food preservation, grocery shopping and cooking. You can reach Caitlin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217.877.6042. Check out her nutrition blog Healthy Eats and Repeats for seasonal recipes and of an exploration of common kitchen foods.