Citrus - Preserving the Harvest

Buying Fresh Citrus:
Look for fruit that are firm and heavy for their size, with bright, colorful skins. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins; this indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly. Citrus fruit peel may vary in thickness, depending on weather conditions during the growing season.

Western climates make for bright colored oranges. However, don't worry if you see a Valencia with slightly green-colored skin. "Regreening" is a natural process that can occur in warm weather, even though the fruit is deliciously ripe!

Most citrus will keep at room temperature for several days. For best results, store citrus in a plastic bag or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

More info on oranges.
More info on lemons.
More info on grapefruit.

Peeling and Handling Citrus

There's more than one way to peel an orange! Here are a few of our favorite techniques for getting the best from every piece of fresh citrus. For best results, be sure to use a sharp knife.

The "Basketball" Peeling Method
Slice off the stem end of the fruit. Without cutting into the "meat" of the fruit, score the peel with a knife or the Sunkist Citrus Peeler™ into quarters like a basketball. Pull the peel away with your fingers.

The "Round and Round" Peeling Method
Using a slightly sawing motion, cut only the outer colored peel away in a continuous spiral, leaving the white membrane. Cutting lengthwise with curve of fruit, remove the white membrane.

Citrus Segments
Peel an orange, grapefruit, or tangerine by hand, or with the Sunkist Citrus Peeler™. Gently separate the fruit along the natural divisions.

Citrus Sections
With knife, peel an orange or grapefruit. Working over a bowl to reserve the juice, cut along both sides of each dividing membrane and lift out sections from center.

Bite-sized pieces
Cut a peeled orange or grapefruit in half lengthwise and, with a shallow "V" shape cut, remove the white center core. Place the halves cut-side-down; cut lengthwise and crosswise.

Basic Wheel Slices
Cut a thin slice from both ends of peeled or unpeeled fruit. Then slice the fruit crosswise into the desired thickness. Cut cartwheels in half for half-cartwheel slices.

Unpeeled Smiles or Wedges
For easy-to-eat orange "smiles," cut the fruit in half crosswise; then cut 3 or 4 wedges from each half. For traditional wedges, cut the fruit in half lengthwise; then cut each half into wedges.

Grated Peel
Wash and dry the fruit. Using a citrus peel grater, with quick downward strokes, remove the outer colored layer of peel, also called the zest. If using a cheese grater, be sure to use light pressure and avoid the white pith.

Grate the zest over wax paper then put the desired amount into a measuring spoon; do not pack. Grated citrus zest freezes well. Seal some in a plastic bag and pop it into the freezer for next time!

Freezing Citrus
Take advantage of times when your favorite citrus fruits are plentiful by preparing and freezing some for later.

The fresh-squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen. Grated peel can be frozen and used as needed to provide zest to recipes. Whole citrus fruit should not be frozen, but for a dramatic and healthy dessert, freeze hollowed out citrus rinds filled with orange, lemon or grapefruit sorbet.

Canning Citrus

Citrus Juices--Good for lemons, oranges, & Grapefruits
Peel the fruit and reserve the peels on the side. Juice and strain the citrus--Either use a citrus juicer or bring the fruit to a boil, then cool and crush the juice out with a potato masher. Use cheese cloth to strain out the pulp and seeds. For especially clear juice, refrigerate for 24-48 hours and carefully pour the clarified juice off into a non-reactive pot. Bring the juice to a boil and then pour it into sterilized canning jars with 1/2 inch of headspace. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 5 minutes for pints or quarts, 10 minutes for 1/2 gallons.

Lemon Curd-May also be made using oranges.
Lemon curd is a traditional British dessert topping. It is made from lemon or lime juice, egg white, egg yolk, butter, and sugar. It is similar to lemon custard, but traditionalists feel that curd has more lemon flavor than lemon custard. Made fresh it has a refrigerator shelf life of approx. 1 week. Canned, it can have a shelf life of approximately 3 to 4 months. If you don’t mind the darkening that occurs, it can have a shelf life of up to 1 year.

• 2 ½ cups sugar
• ½ cup lemon or lime zest
• 1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice
• ¾ cup butter (salted or unsalted--do not use oleo or margarine.)
• 7 large egg yolks
• 4 large whole eggs

Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl, stir to mix, and set aside about 30 minutes. Pre-measure the lemon juice and prepare the chilled butter pieces.

Heat water in the bottom pan of the double boiler until it boils gently. The water should not boil vigorously or touch the bottom of the top double boiler pan or bowl in which the curd is to be cooked. Steam produced will be sufficient for the cooking process to occur.

In the top of the double boiler, on the counter top or table, whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar and zest, blending until well mixed and smooth. Blend in the lemon juice and then add the butter pieces to the mixture.

Place the top of the double boiler over boiling water in the bottom pan. Stir gently but continuously with a silicone spatula or cooking spoon, to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Remove the double boiler pan from the stove and place on a protected surface, such as a dish cloth or towel on the counter top. Continue to stir gently until the curd thickens (about 5 minutes). Strain curd through a mesh strainer into a glass or stainless steel bowl; discard collected zest.

Fill hot strained curd into the clean, hot halfpint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 15 minutes for half-pints. Makes about 4 half-pints Lemon, lime and orange curd may be frozen for up to a year.

Citrus Jelly
3 3/4 cups of lemon juice
7 cups of sugar
2 (3 oz. pkgs.) pectin

Juice the citrus and combine in a pan with sugar and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove the foam on the top of the mixture and add the pectin. Boil 1 more minute. Pour it into sterilized jars. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 5 minutes for half-pints or pints.

Lemon Marmalade

3 pounds lemons
8 to 10 cups granulated sugar

Slice the lemons as thinly as possible and discard the ends. Remove and discard all the seeds. Place the lemon slices in a nonreactive bowl and add enough water to cover. Let stand overnight.

Measure the lemons and water into a wide, shallow, nonreactive pan. Add an equal volume of sugar and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently and skimming off the foam as it rises, until temperature reaches 220 degrees F, about 1/2 hour.

Remove marmalade from heat. To test for consistency, drop a little marmalade on a saucer and put the saucer into the freezer until marmalade is cold, about 5 minutes.

Tip the saucer. The marmalade should just barely run. If too thin, return the marmalade to medium-high heat and cook, testing often, until it has reached the right consistency.

Put marmalade into hot, sterilized pint or half-pint jars. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month or, for longer storage, Pour it into sterilized jars. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 5 minutes for half-pints or pints.

Citrus Sections--works best for oranges and grapefruit

Select firm, mature, sweet fruit of ideal quality for eating fresh. The flavor of orange sections is best if the sections are canned with equal parts of grapefruit. Grapefruit may be canned without oranges. Sections may be packed in your choice of water, citrus juice or syrup.

Wash and peel fruit and remove white tissue to prevent a bitter taste. If you use syrup, prepare a very light, light, or medium syrup and bring to boil. Fill jars with sections and water, juice or hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 10 minutes for pints.

Grapefruit Marmalade

1 to 3 Texas Ruby Red or Rio Star grapefruit
1 lemon
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 (6 ounce) bottle liquid fruit pectin

Remove skins in quarters from grapefruit and lemon. Set fruit aside. Lay quarters flat; shave off and discard almost all white part. With a sharp knife or scissors, slice rind very thin. Combine rind, water and baking soda in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop peeled grapefruit and lemon; discard seeds. Add to cooked rind and continue simmering 10 minutes.

Measure 3 cups fruit mixture into large saucepan. Add sugar to fruit in pan; mix well. Place over high heat; bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in pectin at once. Skim off any foam. Stir and skim 7 minutes. Ladle into hot sterile jars. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 10 minutes for pints.

Strawberry Lemonade

4 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled
4 cups lemon juice
3 quarts water
6 cups granulated sugar

Puree strawberries in a blender, food processor or food mill. For a clearer lemonade, extract juice from strawberries with a juice extractor.

Place strawberries in an 8-quart or larger pot. Add lemon juice, water and sugar. Place mixture over medium heat and heat to 165 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Quickly ladle hot juice into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Clean rim, apply lid and process in a Water Bath Canner- 15 minutes for quarts.

Refrigerate before opening or serve over ice.

Yields 6 to 7 quarts.

Preserved Lemons

Choose smooth, thin-skinned, unblemished lemons. Scrub them well. Make two vertical cuts in a cross to within about 1/2 inch of their base, so that they still hold together. Put 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the center of each lemon and press them closed. Pack tight in sterilized glass jars. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt and the strained juice of 1 lemon into each jar. Top off each jar with boiling water and seal. Leave them for 3 to 4 weeks.

To use lemons, rinse well under cold water and discard the flesh and pith, retaining peel only.

Come back for info on:

Drying Citrus

Candied Citrus

Lemon Powder

Lemon Pot Pourri