How to pick a good piece of citrus…

This post is written strictly from experience. Who knows, there may be some scientific research somewhere to possibly back up my “claims”. Again, it’s all me….

When I speak of citrus, I speak of most citrus-like fruits (i.e. grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangelos, minneolas, etc.)  From my experience, the main indicator that measures if “this one is better than that one” is the skin – the other being weight.  Weight “weighs in” mainly with grapefruits and especially with an Ugli fruit (a.k.a. unique fruit [a Jamaican tangelo]). A quick note, these (2) indicators are (most of the time) followed by the instinctive action of first selecting a piece based on color. For instance, you would instinctively reach for a nice orange-colored navel orange versus a lightly-colored one.

So let’s talk skin. You want the skin to be thick and pithy. The smoother and thinner the skin is, the longer it has been sitting in a crate, box, or in the produce section. {Again, this is solely through my experience with citrus.} I used pithy to indicate the opposite of smooth. Example:  a navel orange has a thick skin with bumps or piths all over it. Through time, the piths wear down leaving the skin smoother and thinner, both the attributes you want to try to avoid. The longer it sits the less juicy it seems to be.

With regards to weight, if you pick up two pieces of citrus, one may feel heavier than the other. This is true, and surely indicates a juicier piece of fruit. I really only use this if (a) the two pieces are identical in appearance (good skin) or it is an Ugli fruit. With the unique fruit, most of the time the skin is thick, but the colors it give off for ripening vary, so you can’t tell just by looking at it.

I hope this helps out since citrus season is kicking off! Happy Holidays and happy “hunting” !

Ed Farace, Produce Manager


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