There is more to citrus fruits than just oranges, limes and lemons! Check out these 10 vibrant citrus fruits and their shelf life!
Mandarins are considered to be descendants of wild oranges. These fruits were a native of modern day India. However, they are widely grown in regions like Japan, Philippines, Australia as well as East Indies. Mandarins have a loose peel which easily separates and are smaller than sweet oranges. Incorporate them in cakes, fruit salads and puddings.
This variety is believed to be a parent fruits. This means that others are derived from it. Citron is easily recognized by its extra thick peel with small sections inside. Cultivation is extensively done in the Mediterranean and West Indies regions. The peel is utilized in confectionaries where it is brined and candied.
Did you know that oranges can be either sweet or bitter (sour)? Sweet ones belong to the species sinensis while bitter ones aurantium. Oranges are a native to Asia. Bitter oranges are mostly used for medicinal purposes, whereas sweet ones are for consumption and culinary use.
Unlike most citrus fruits, limes have a green peel. There are numerous varieties of limes. You have probably come across key lime which is popularized by key lime pies. Other types include Tahiti, Mexican, kaffir, finger and Bearss lime.
Lemons are believed to be a hybrid between bitter oranges and citrons. They are a native to Asia, most notably southern India. They are some of the most popular citrus fruits globally. Their uses extend beyond human consumption. Lemons are extensively used as household cleaning agent, air freshener, antibacterial agent as well as insect repellant.
Also known as pummelo, these fruit is the largest among all citrus fruits. It is also an original (natural) citrus fruit. Pomelos are also natives of Asia and have a sweet, white or red flesh. The peel is quite thick and appears spongy. It is usually pale green and changes to yellow when ripe.
Clementines and tangerines have a striking resemblance. Clementines are small, seedless hybrids of sweet orange and mandarin. Unlike tangerines, these ones have a smooth, shiny peel. They are seasonal fruits, available in winter seasons of late November to early January and are sometimes known as Christmas oranges.
These citrus fruits are synonymous with their red flesh. Grapefruits are actually hybrids of pomelos and sweet oranges. They are a native of Barbados, although cultivation spread in other subtropical regions. Grapefruits have a slightly sour to semi-sweet taste.
Kumquats are among the lesser known citrus fruits. Like most citrus, they are native of Asia, the southeast region. An interesting fact about kumquats is that the rind is sweet, hence you can consume the entire fruit. Kumquats are small, oblong shaped with a glossy deep orange peel.
These citrus fruits derive their name from a Moroccan port known as Tangier. It is from here that they were shipped to Europe and other regions after being introduced from Southeast Asia. Tangerines burst with sweetness, have a loose peel with soft segments.
Nutritional Information and Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits
Knowing the above 10 vibrant citrus fruits and their shelf life may not suffice. Their nutritional value is crucial too.
Zesty citrus fruits are touted for being not only highly nutritious, but flavorful too. As such, they are incorporated in diverse culinary uses.
It is a well-known fact that citrus fruits contain choke full of vitamin C. Apart from this, citrus fruits are also loaded with minerals, dietary fiber, other vitamins as well as beneficial non-nutrient components. Here is a brief description of each:
Citrus are loaded with folate, an essential vitamin. Folate promotes new cell regeneration and production of DNAs. Folate is recommended for pregnant women as it helps prevent neural birth defects.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is the leading component in collagen formation. Collagen synthesis facilitates healthy body tissue in the skin, ligaments, bones as well as tendons. This is why adequate intake of vitamin C promotes wound healing, tissue repair, healthy skin and hair. Additionally, it aids in the absorption of iron in the body.
Phyto is Greek for plant – hence phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants. Examples include carotenoids, limonoids, flavonoids, lycopene as well as beta-carotenes. Phytochemicals are lauded for being nutritional superpowers known to counteract inflammation, promote tissue growth, boost immunity, reduce cholesterol levels as well as inhibit cancer growth.
Citrus fruits contain substantial levels of dietary fiber or non-starch polysaccharides. Dietary fiber is commonly known as roughage or bulk. It is a crucial component in diet as it enhances satiety, aids in digestion and promotes bowel movement.
Citrus are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and phosphorous. These minerals are crucial in maintaining water-acid balance in the body as well as promoting healthy bones.
This essential vitamin promotes healthy central nervous system, helps in breakdown of proteins in the body as well as promotes cognitive functions like sleep and mental agility.
Shelf Life of Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits can be stored either in the pantry or refrigerator. However, utilize the refrigerator to prolong their shelf life.
When left in the pantry or open, whole citrus fruits like sweet oranges remain in good condition for up to 14 days. The extent to this depends on how ripe the fruits are as well as the variety. For instance, citrus fruits like tangerines or mandarins have a softer peel, hence deteriorate faster.
Cut fruits have a shorter shelf life and should be consumed on the same day or 2 days at most.
Well refrigerated citrus fruits keep well for up to 2 months.
How to Prolong the Shelf Life of Citrus Fruits
Drying citrus fruits is one of the best ways of preserving their state. You can use dried citrus slices long-term and in a number of ways. Enjoy them as snacks, add them in drinks or grind them into powder (dust) which you can incorporate in dishes, drinks and baked products.
- Wash the fruits first.
- Slice the fruits evenly.
- Dry until well crisp and brittle.
- Store in a cool, dry area in airtight containers.
Canning fruits is a great option when the fruits are in season, you have too many fruits and are wondering what to do with the extras. It also allows you to enjoy the fruits all year round. It is also an easy task to do right at home as long as you stick to a specific recipe.
When canning citrus fruits:
- Select fresh, firm fruits without discolorations.
- Wash the fruits well to prevent contamination.
- Sterilize the canning jars before using them.
How to identify spoilage
- Look out for sunken, mushy flesh. This indicates deterioration.
- Slimy flesh is another indicator of spoilage.
- Shriveled peel mean that the fruits have overstayed and are probably dried out on the flesh.
- Discolored peel also indicates spoilage.
- Mold growth on peel is a sure sign of deterioration.
The above guide on 10 vibrant citrus fruits and their shelf life gives you a comprehensive look inside these zesty fruits.