The abundance of homegrown citrus this time of year in Los Angeles is a peak reason I love being a Californian. You see front yard Meyer lemon trees groaning with yellow orbs. Pomelos and grapefruits frame driveways, and trees impossibly heavy with oranges regularly warrant a double-take. Being surround with this much citrus is happy-making. Especially if you can get your hands on it. And did I ever. My dad’s neighbors generously dropped off a huge crate of Meyers, mandarins, oranges, and Eureka lemons the other day – a legit “bend with your knees” box. So here I am jotting down the ways I’ve been using it, saving it, and the citrus recipes I’ve been making all week.
A Week in Citrus
I thought I’d start by talking through everything I’ve done with citrus in the past week. It has been a mix! I’ll include recipes down below for the pastes and syrups.
- Kosho: I started a batch of Meyer lemon kosho. Kosho is traditionally a spicy, fermented Japanese Yuzu paste, but because lemons are more plentiful here, I tend to use them.
- Citrus Peel Pastes: I also blended Meyer lemon, Eureka, and orange peels into a number of quick (unfermented) pastes, and froze them in single use quantities. I’ll write up the recipes down below. I use them to season and boost everything! From pastas and soups to rice bowls and roasted vegetable tacos.
- Most of the mandarins were simply peeled and popped into mouths, but a few have made it into my favorite citrus salad (I’ll highlight that down below).
- Meyer Lemon & Rose Geranium No-heat Syrup: I love the intensity of no-heat syrups, and made a thick, intensely flavored Meyer lemon syrup by massaging lots of lemon peel with sugar and rose geranium leaves.
- Orange No-heat Syrup: Same process as the lemon syrup, but kept it to orange peel here. See the recipe below.
- Citrus Ice Cubes: After peeling citrus and making pastes or syrups, all of the juice was frozen in ice cube trays for future use in drinks, granitas, soups, etc.
My Favorite Citrus Salad
I love this salad. It has a mix of citrus segments, peanuts, red onions, a few saffron threads and almond extract along with good olive oil. The recipe is in Super Natural Simple which will be out next month. There’s more information (and so many good soups & salads) here.
How To Efficiently Peel Citrus
Ok, let’s talk about peeling citrus. There was a lot of it going on this week. Peeling citrus isn’t a quick task. Know that going in, and you’ll enjoy the process much more. I basically have three moves (see below). 1. Start with clean, dry citrus, and slice citrus from top to bottom in wide slabs. 2. Trim all the bitter pith away. To do this, keep the peel flat agains the cutting board, and trim away from yourself. 3. Scrape any remaining pith from peel with the dull or “flip-side” of a knife.
What about the Juice?
Lots of peel means lots of juice. Sometimes we just drink it, or use it over the coming days. But, if you freeze the juice in ice cube trays you end up with easy to thaw portions for use in dressing, granitas, soups, curries – basically any place where you can imagine a sunny citrus boost!
So Many Ways To Use Citrus Peel Pastes
Citrus peel pastes are fragrant flavor blasts. You can make them as simple or complex as you want. I tend to keep mine pretty straightforward, but love the addition of garlic – quite a lot of it. You might add spice blends, mix citruses, you could use other oils in place of olive oil, etc. Here’s how I put them to use after making them:
Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) is super garlicky and was amazing combined with a healthy amount of cayenne pepper, water, and coconut milk to make a beautiful broth for soba noodles – season with more salt to taste to make it just right. I also put a dollop on my lunchtime chana masala and loved the way it brightened everything up. It was also incredibly good dolloped on top of a bowl of this Fire Broth Noodle Soup. And lastly, I used it as a finishing accent on roasted vegetable tacos (cauliflower & mushroom) on homemade corn tortillas. Orange & Garlic Citrus Paste is pictured below.
Meyer Lemon & Garlic Citrus Paste (recipe below) was perfect tossed with a bowl of pan-fried golden artichoke hearts. The next day I tossed a generous amount of the citrus paste with hot noodles, extra olive oil, pasta water, lots of scallions, a bit of torn mozzarella, herbs and broccoli – so good! And it was the perfect slather across the top of a simple buckwheat and gruyere crepe the other night.
No-Heat Citrus Peel Syrups
Heating fruit changes the flavor profile. As I mentioned up above, I love the intensity, and uncooked clarity that rings through citrus peel syrups. Made by patiently massaging citrus peels with sugar and leaving to macerate, you strain and end up with an intense, full-bodied syrup to use in countless ways. A favorite this week was an easy drinking dark rum cocktail made with a splash of orange syrup, a shot of dark rum, shaken with tons of ice and topped off with pampelmousse La Croix, and a kiss of lime juice.
Cookbooks Focused on Citrus Recipes
Citri – I love this little 60-ish page cookbook zine by Loria Stern. I’ve encountered Loria and her beautiful creations a number of times since moving to Los Angeles (thanks to Jessica & Joanna), and she made sure I had Citri at the perfect time – peak citrus season. It’s a love letter to citrus with 25 bright and brilliant recipes.
Also, have a look at Citrus : Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers by Gwendolyn Richards, and also Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and the Sour by Catherine Phipps.
More Citrus Recipes from the Archives
There are a lot of citrus-centric recipes in the 101 archives, and I’ll put them in the related searches below, but these two recipes have been exceptionally popular over the years. A few years back, I also linked out to a bunch of great winter citrus recipes here.
Candied Citrus Lollipops: Two-ingredient magic. Plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. They’re the perfect, delightful sweet treat.
A Spectrum of Citrus Salts: Citrus salts made from all sorts of winter citrus zest – clementines, wild lime, Meyer lemon, kalamansi oranges, and mandarinquats. Couldn’t be simpler.
Let me know your favorite ultra citrus centric recipes and resources. And in the meantime, I hope you find a bit of inspiration here, especially with the citrus peel pastes. Enjoy! -h