Selecting Citrus Fruits

Posted: January 24, 2017

The fresh berries have diminished and the citrus fruits are starting to come into season. Citrus fruits include grapefruit, oranges, mandarin oranges, lemons, and limes. They are at their peak of availability during the winter season.
Three shades of citrus beauty by Robynlou Kavanagh/ CC0 BY 2.0

Three shades of citrus beauty by Robynlou Kavanagh/ CC0 BY 2.0

Many growers are located in California and Florida; however, some fruits might be from out of the country. To find out where the fruit originates, look at the small sticker label.

To determine if citrus fruit is at its peak, gently but firmly, squeeze the fruit. The fruit should give slightly but not be mushy. Additionally, feel the fruit for soft spots that could indicate rot. The fruit should also not feel dry or hard, which indicates it is probably past its prime. Here are a few tips about each of the citrus fruits.


Oranges are the most widely grown fruit in the world and hundreds of varieties exist. In the USA, seedless navel oranges are the most popular. Later in the season, seedless Valencia oranges are more common. Oranges are rich in vitamin C and high in fiber if you eat the whole fruit — without the peel, of course. Choose oranges with firm, smooth skins and those that are heavy for their size. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days and refrigerate for 1-2 weeks.


Grapefruit is a result of a natural cross between pomelo and mandarin orange that originated on the island of Barbados. Pomelo looks similar to grapefruit but is often larger and has sweeter, less acidic flavor. Grapefruits give us the additional benefit of Vitamin A.

For best quality, select grapefruits that are heavy for their size and are free of squishy brown spots or dull wrinkled skin. Make sure that the poles (sides of the grapefruit containing the holes) are flat. Grapefruits can be stored for 1 week at room temperature or for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Lemons and limes:

Lemons are often grown in California, and limes in Florida. Meyer Lemon is actually the result of the cross between lemons and sweet oranges and is less sour. Interestingly, Meyer Lemon fell out of favor in the mid-20th century, but over the last several years was re-popularized by famous chefs.

Remember, even though citrus fruits are high in acid, it’s important to handle them safely to prevent food borne illness. First, wash citrus with cool tap water just before preparing or eating, even if the rinds will be removed. Refrigerate fresh citrus products within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut citrus and freshly squeezed juice should be discarded after two hours at room temperature.

Below are some easy to make recipes which can be tailored to your likes. Enjoy!

Source: Fruits and Veggies More Matters

Mexican Citrus Salad


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon or lime (the juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)


  1. Wash the cucumbers, oranges and lemon or lime under cold running water.
  2. Slice the cucumbers. Peel and cut the oranges into small pieces.
  3. Place cucumber slices and orange pieces in a medium sized bowl. Add chili powder, lemon or lime juice and salt.
Nutritional Information: Calories 50, Total Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 12g, Fiber 3g, Total Sugars 9g, Protein 1g, Sodium 300mg

Citrus Soother


2 cups grapefruit juice
2 cups orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan combine grapefruit juice, orange juice, and honey. If using cinnamon, add that too.
  2. Heat, stirring occasionally, just until warm (do not boil). Serve Warm.

Nutritional Information: Calories 160, Total Fat 0g, Cholesterol N/A, Sodium 5mg, Total Carbohydrate 41g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Total Sugars 39g, Protein 1g

Florida Sunshine Shake


1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1 banana (mashed)
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, or mix in a bowl. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories 180, Total Fat 1g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 40mg, Carbohydrate 40g, Fiber 2g, Total Sugars 21g, Protein 5g

Source: What’s Cooking USDA

Contact Information

Mary Reistetter Ehret, M.S.,R.D.,L.D.N.
  • Extension Educator, Food, Families & Health
Phone: 888-825-1701