It happens to the best of us. We dig into that bowl of gorgeous citrus fruits on our kitchen counter and pull out a green, moldy orange. What went wrong?
Here are a few things you can do to keep your citrus fresh:
Purchase ripe, in-season citrus
“Know what’s in season during citrus season,” advised Luke, our produce guru. You want to buy the freshest fruit possible, and every type of citrus has its season. Right now, fresh off the truck from California, we have the following organic fruits: Minneola, Cara Cara, Red and Pink Grapefruit, Navel Oranges, Satsumas, and 2-pound bags of Clementines. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for Honeybells, which are the same variety as Minneolas but come from Florida. They’re usually around for about two weeks, so get them when you see them!
Unlike other fruits, citrus doesn’t continue to ripen after it’s picked. When you’re shopping for oranges and grapefruit, look for a nice color and firm skin. There are a few varieties, like mandarins and tangelos, that naturally have a loose skin.
Put it in the fridge
“Refrigeration for citrus is best,” Luke said. Oranges and grapefruit can last for several weeks if stored properly in the fridge. This means placing them loose (or in a mesh bag) in the veggie drawer and then turning them from time to time to allow airflow. While most citrus can be stored loosely, lemons should be placed in a plastic bag before going in the fridge.
Eat them quickly if kept at room temperature
To encourage healthy snacking, we suggest keeping a few oranges in a bowl on the countertop and the rest in the fridge. As the bowl empties, pull a few more oranges out of the fridge. “The countertop is nice if you plan to eat it within a few days,” Luke said. “Otherwise, it should go in the fridge.” Just make sure that your countertop citrus has good airflow and that you don’t let it sit for too long. And if the room is warm or muggy, forego the countertop altogether. Citrus prefers a cool, dry environment.
Keep it dry
Wherever you store your citrus, make sure the fruit is dry and that you rotate it regularly for proper airflow. Moisture between pieces of citrus is a recipe for disaster. If the fruit comes in a bag, we recommend taking the citrus out of the bag and placing it in a shallow bowl on the counter or directly in the fridge.
Learn about a few unique citrus varieties you’ll find at the Market this winter.