Last Updated: May 29, 2020
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! A pinch of finely grated zest can help brighten any recipe or gloomy day. This time, let us immerse ourselves in the world of citrus flavours! Some tang and zesty notes can certainly help to drive away all our woes.
Did you know the difference between a lime and a lemon? Especially during this ‘Circuit Breaker’ period, it is even more important that we take care of our health and eat more fruits.
Citrus fruits are a culinary contradiction; you wince away from its sour juices and yet ironically, its acidity is exactly what you seek for in a dish. We’ll be breaking down eight types of citrus fruits that are bound to invigorate your spirits. Get to know the different varieties and you’ll be out plucking the best ones from the pile at your market in no time.
Everybody knows what an orange is. Growing up, it’s one of the first few things we recognize, be it via the colour or fruit. The orange is a highly accessible citrus fruit, being farmed globally in countries like Brazil, China and the United States. With it being so widely popular, it comes as no surprise that oranges have large impacts in various cultures and cuisines.
There are over 600 varieties of oranges all across the globe today. Having said to have first originated in Southeast Asia, these eye-catching fruits grow in trees with an average height of 9 – 10 metres. From facials to perfumes, oranges are widely considered a superfruit thanks to its almost endless applications. The nutrient-dense nature of the fruit also bolsters its popularity, proving to be a reliable source of vitamin A and C.
Popularized as a breakfast drink, orange juice, otherwise known as ‘OJ’ is as its name suggests, the juice of an orange. Aside from being served as a beverage, the fruit can also be used to flavour a myriad of dishes, ranging from starters to desserts. One of the most popular dishes being orange chicken, a dish where pieces of deep-fried chicken are coated with a viscous, sweet and savoury orange sauce.
Price: From S$0.50 for one
The blood orange is a variety of orange with flesh possessing a dark crimson colour hence its name. With an almost identical exterior, the blood orange is commonly mistaken for the ordinary orange.
Its deep red hue comes from a pigment called Anthocyanin which is common in flowers but not in citrus fruits. The unique coloured flesh is not only aesthetically pleasing but also has the added benefits of extra polyphenols, a nutrient largely found in berries. This allows the fruit to give you the best of both berries and regular oranges.
With just as many applications as the common household orange, the blood orange is great eaten out of hand or juiced into a beverage. Largely prized for its unique shade, it can be used as a garnish for cocktails or be found in salads where it provides an extra burst of colour.
Price: From S$0.80 for one
Pucker up and stock your kitchen with every chef’s best friend, lemons. Adding a spark to our dishes with its juice and zest, the lemon adds a bright jolt of flavour to endless recipes. Extremely sour in taste, they are excellent for intensifying flavours, whether it be a dish or a beverage. They are so versatile they can be incorporated into anything!
Lemons are full of vitamin C, folate, fibre, and potassium. Packed with many potential health benefits, eating lemons may lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and kidney stones. With only 15 calories in each lemon, it makes a perfect juice used for quick weight loss
To top things off, its high citric acid content makes it a strong cleaning agent and the lemon aroma derived from its essential oils decreases stress and improves mood.
Apart from being used as a garnish or a simple salad dressing, a touch of lemon zest will brighten and add a pop of flavour to any of your desserts and confectioneries.
Price: From S$1.20 for one
Lime is a hybrid citrus fruit and was believed to have first grown in Indonesia or Southeast Asia. Its branches are widespread and irregular, with short stiff twigs and small sharp thorns. They have ovate (an oval outline) leaves that are long, glossy or dark green coloured. Lime is used to accent flavours in foods. It is tender, yellowish-green in colour and decidedly more acidic than lemons.
Often confused with lemons, both might come from the same citrus family but have varied characteristics, in particular, their appearance, flavours, and acidity. Limes possess a higher content of sugar and acids than lemons do. Contrastingly enough, lime juice is found in similar savoury dishes just like lemon but they are less commonly found in dessert forms.
They’re similar, a nutritional powerhouse, high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients. Lime zest can be exchanged with lemon zest; if you need more lime juice for your recipe, one cup of lemon juice substitutes for ¾ cup of lime juice.
The sharpest of the citrus fruits, lime is zingy and extremely refreshing. A squeeze of it can help elevate your dish, whether it be a meat dish or a decadent dessert. Its high acid content and tartness makes it an extremely powerful cooking ingredient. Lime is the featured ingredient in your favourite margarita cocktail and it helps to boast fresh and crisp flavours!
Price: From S$1.95 for three
Known for its bright orange peel, Tangerines have a loose orange and reddish peel that can be easily separated. They are tender, rich in flavour and juicy. They are enjoyed all over the world and are particularly prized during Chinese New Year as they are used to represent wealth and a better year ahead.
Tangerines are a diverse citrus fruit ranging in flavour from very sweet to tart. As compared to oranges, tangerines are less tart and sweeter. They also tend to have a stronger flavour profile than oranges and a shorter aftertaste. The rinds of tangerines and oranges are the main difference between the two. Tangerines are easier to peel as they possess a thinner and looser skin with a pebbled peel absent of any deep grooves.
A tip when looking for ready-to-eat tangerines is to look for ones heavier and firm to the touch. The secret to storing them is to make sure they stay chilled.
For a sophisticated twist, blend it into a juice or a sparkler. You can also incorporate them and whip out some fluffy and moist cake that is sure to please the crowd!
Price: From S$9 for 10
Grapefruit is a subtropical citrus fruit known for its relatively large sour to semi-sweet, somewhat bitter fruit. Very much an acquired taste, its bitter pith (white circumference around the fruit) and tart taste can be off-putting to those who are more accustomed to sweeter citrus fruits. Bulbous in size, they are considered a superfood and contain very few calories.
Grapefruit gets its name as they grow in clusters, almost like grapes on a vine. This superfood is incredibly healthy and you should consider adding them to your diet. It is high in nutrients but low in calories. In fact, it is considered to be one of the lowest-calorie fruits.
They are exponentially more versatile than we give it credit for. They can be added to guacamole, salsa and salads for that extra kick.
Price: From S$2.95 for three
Pomelo is a large Asian citrus fruit that’s closely related to grapefruit. It’s shaped like a teardrop and has green or yellow flesh and a thick, pale rind. It is the largest of all citrus fruits, measuring up to 10 to 30 cm in diameter. Its rough skin ranges from light green to yellow colour and is also dotted with oil glands.
The fruit is sweet and tart at the same time, with some having a bitter aftertaste. Produced in Thailand, they are especially favoured for their pink flesh and juicy tart sweetness. Some of them are full of seeds, whereas others are almost seedless. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, they are low in calories.
When getting a pomelo, look for those with a smooth and blemish-free rind. Feel for soft spots and avoid those. Hold and compare them and look for the one that feels the heaviest as it is more likely the juiciest!
The fruit can be eaten on its own or in a salad. The rind can be candied or used to make jams. In Asia, we use them as a topping for sweet desserts such as the mango pomelo sago, which combines rich flavours from mangos and citrusy notes from the pomelos that makes it absolutely refreshing and fruity.
Price: From S$7.90 for one
Yuzu is a hybrid citrus fruit also known as yuja. It originated in China over 1,000 years ago and now grows in Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world. With a diameter of two to three inches, it has a relatively thick yellow skin and tastes much sourer than other citrus fruits.
Its distinct flavour and aroma set it apart from other citrus fruits. In fact, this Asian fruit is unique for its fragrant scent, refreshing tang, and super sour taste.
You can find products incorporating yuzu in almost every supermarket in Japan. For instance, the ponzu sauce is a citrus-based sauce that incorporates yuzu and it has a characteristic tart and refreshing taste profile. Arguably one of the most loved winter drinks in Japan and even in Asia, the yuzu tea is perfect when you’re looking for a little cold relief or just a nice beverage to warm yourself up.
Now that we have come to the end, we hope you are a little more aware of the different types of citrus fruits. Whether you’re looking to fight off a cold or add vibrance to sweet and savoury dishes, citrus fruits are an impeccable choice to breathe some life into your otherwise ho-hum food.