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Recipes, tips help you figure what to do with all that citrus
Winter harvest in Mid-Valley brings pleasant pulp affliction
I've been cleaning up my dishes that have hard water stains ... the citric acid eats right through those spots and film. And they make the garbage disposal smell pretty good. I'm a little burnt out on eating them. — Jennifer Gray
Making lots of marmalade. — Tonya Kubo
Juicing and drinking some, freezing some! — Kris Van Bebber
When it comes to winter citrus, there's lots of low-hanging fruit around Yuba-Sutter. It's the perfect time of year for resourceful cooks to start picking, then planning ahead.
At Oak Acre Farms in Sutter County, where Satsuma mandarins have been harvested and Murcott tangerines are coming off trees now, operations manager Bill Hosford said it's "one of our better years this year."
Hosford said it takes about 25 Satsumas to make a gallon of juice and that he enjoyed a preserve made a few years ago by a friend who made it from mandarins and persimmons.
Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, the farm donates fruit to the Yuba-Sutter Gleaners Food Bank and the Sacramento Food Bank. Hosford said the farm donated about 8,000 pounds to the Sacramento Food Bank in 2012.
In Wheatland, Salle Orchards has mandarins, lemons, oranges, pomelo, tangerines, grapefruit, kumkwats and limes. Salle Orchards' bags of dehydrated fruit — including dried blood oranges — are among the items sold at the Sacramento Farmers Market.
The dried fruit rehydrates while it cooks, said family member Nicole Salle. She said people can use dehydrated citrus within tea or a fish dish or use it as a fragrance.
Yuba County Agricultural Commissioner Louie Mendoza Jr. said there are fewer than 50 acres of commercial citrus there, mostly mandarins. In Sutter County, the acreage for commercial citrus is 36, which includes six acres of tangerines and three and a half acres of oranges.
"We're just more of a cold pocket in the wintertime, so depending on the year, the navels or other oranges or grapefruit may have experienced frost and freezing, and therefore the growers have to be able to maintain those crops more closely," Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner Mark Quisenberry said.
Storing and scrubbing
Making room in your freezer for juice and zest that can be used anytime during the year is a good place to start. If you don't have a juicer, squeeze the fruit into a colander over a bowl to catch the seeds and extra pulp. Pour the juice into Tupperware and store in the freezer. Zest can go right next to it, after being put into freezer bags.
Slice lemons in half and keep them in the refrigerator as "scrubbers" to spiff up your kitchen countertops and cutting boards. The DIY Network suggests cleaning copper by rubbing the surface with a salted lemon. Tupperware stains come out with lemon juice and baking soda; rust stains on fabric can be removed with lemon juice and cream of tartar.
Lemon juice can help eliminate odor from indoor pet stains. Cat owners who have trouble with their pet urinating inside can put out lemon or orange slices, juice or zest to deter them from the inappropriate spot, as cats don't like the smell of citrus.
Unlike stone fruit or berries, cooking options for citrus aren't always intuitive. The acidity can do strange things, like making milk to curdle or reacting with aluminum. But citrus is taking on new roles, appearing in dishes you might not expect. Here are some recipes to get you started.
CITRUS WALNUT SALAD
1 10-ounce bag baby greens salad mix
2 oranges or 4 mandarins, peeled and cut into sections
1⁄2 red onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup Chandler walnuts
1⁄3 cup dried cranberries
1⁄3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1⁄2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar
1⁄2 cup orange juice
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
In large bowl, mix the salad ingredients well.
Combine the dressing ingredients and mix well; drizzle over salad.
For an added touch, serve with chopped chicken breast on top.
Source: Salle Orchards, Wheatland
FISH TACOS WITH CALIFORNIA SALSA
Makes four servings
1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1 orange, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 white fish filets
1 sliced lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded angel hair cabbage
Combine all salsa ingredients; set aside.
Rub fish filets with lemon slices; season with salt and pepper if desired. In grill pan or on grill over medium heat, heat olive oil or grill oiled fish fillets until lightly browned and cooked through; cut into bite-size pieces.
Serve fish in warm tortillas; top with angel hair cabbage and California salsa.
Source: California Citrus Mutual
Yield: 3-1⁄2 pints
4 cups grain alcohol or high-proof vodka
3 cups simple syrup
Wash, dry and peel lemons, trimming away any white pith (use a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler to cut wide strips). Put peels in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
Add alcohol and seal. Place in cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Let sit for two weeks.
Add simple syrup; stir and reseal. Return to the spot and let sit two more weeks.
Strain liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through two new layers of cheesecloth into one large bottle or a number of small bottles or jars.
Source: "Luscious Liqueurs" by A.J. Rathbun (Harvard Common Press, $12.95)