Citrus fruits are amazing fruits! They have an extremely powerful flavor and scent, which can be used in an uncountable number of ways. There are whole books devoted solely to the use of citrus in cooking. In fact, a quick search on amazon brings up 302 books in the paperback format for “citrus” in the “Cookbooks, Food and Wine” category. 302 books on amazon, just for citrus! Wow.
So today, rather than buying one of those Amazon books, we will take a look at the “How and Why” for my use of citrus. Obviously, you have already seen several different applications of this: UPC’s Twisted Greens, Paleo “Greek” Sauce, and Roast Lime Chicken are among my more popular dishes so far. So, to supplement that, I’ll tell you how and why I use lime, and other citrus fruits, in my cooking.
How and Why
Lime: I use lime more than all other citrus fruits combined. It’s not that I don’t like the other citrus fruits, far from it. It’s more that I just find myself preferring the flavors that lime brings to a dish, particularly an uncooked dish, than other citrus fruits. I love to use fresh squeezed lime juice in my salads, and my wife goes crazy for them. I think that the flavor of lime for me is a smoother flavor, and it combines with olive oil, and most of the greens that I use better than the other citrus fruits.
- For a quick salad dressing, I mix equal parts lime juice and olive oil.
- Lime can be added to steak, port, or chicken after cooking to change the flavor of the dish. This should usually be a planned addition to the dish, and considered carefully in accordance with sides and drinks.
- Lime juice cuts the “Fishy” flavor of shrimp while cooking, and can be used to freshen frozen meat of all types.
Lemon: Interestingly, most of the places that people use lemon, I prefer to use lime. There are a few notable exceptions: I far prefer to use lemon when I am cooking or baking. I don’t know what the chemical mechanism is, but I find that the lemon flavor is less affected by heat than the lime flavor. This is much more important in baking, since the heat exposure lasts for such a long time, but still applicable on the stove top as well.
- I significantly prefer lime over lemon when squeezing it over fish, or when added as an ingredient during a cooked or baked dish.
- When recipes call for “essence of citrus” or shredded citrus peels I prefer lemon peel to be used over lime.
- In fact, any time a recipe uses a citrus peel, I prefer lemon.
The Orange Family: There are many different recipes, salads, etc. which use orange. I used to love buying the “Asian Salad” in the cafeteria at work, or from the Hale & Hearty on the corner, because I thought the mandarin orange slices were delicious! Now that I don’t eat the asian noodles in the salad, I still often find myself adding the mandarin oranges when I’m eating a made-to-order salad. Similarly, I recently had a salad which was designed around blood oranges. It was quite good, and the novelty of a Blood Orange Salad was quite exciting.
- I use Oranges (or Orange Family fruits) whenever the citrus fruit is an actual ingredient.
- I use Oranges when I am looking to “spice things up” and add a flavor, texture, or color which is unexpected, and pleasantly surprising.
- And I eat them straight, using them the way fruit were intended to be used!
Sour Citrus: The sour citrus category will include the more sharp versions of the citrus family, except lemon and lime as I’ve already covered those: Grapefruit, Kumquat, Sour Oranges, etc. I love to eat grapefruit peeled like an orange. I know that the flavor is sharp, and that’s part of what I like about it. Also, when I’m in the mood for it, I will drop in on an Asian Market and pick up some kumquats for a real afternoon treat. They are both sweet and sour at the same time!
- I use grapefruits, kumquats, and sour oranges whenever I am looking to combine the sweet and sour flavors of the fruit with the overall theme of the meal.
- Mosty, though, I just eat these straight, not using them as an ingredient at all. I find sweet and sour fruits to be a real treat, and love being able to include them as a delightful snack.
Write in with comments on how you use Citrus! As I noted above, there are 302 books on amazon alone devoted to citrus, so there are bound to be some great and unique ideas out there. Let’s share them here!
Also, I have now begun the writing of my Ingredients posts, where I will discuss the most common ingredients in my Paleo Pantry. Keep your eyes open for more Ingredients of the Paleo Pantry posts!