Less than one hundred years ago, citrus fruits were a rare luxury in the temperate areas of the world. They are now a dietary staple. Collectively, citrus fruits are third in popularity worldwide, behind two other categories of fruit: apples and pears, and bananas and plantains.
Citrus fruits have come a long way from their origins in Asia some twenty million years ago, with much of their refinement as a food crop occurring in the last few centuries. The citron was the first to migrate from Asia to the Middle East and Europe, around 500 BCE. Sweet oranges arrived about 1500 CE and were brought to the Americas by Spanish colonists. As a result of their global journey, Brazil and the United States are now the world's largest producers of oranges.
Citrus fruits are uniquely structured, with a tough but aromatic peel that protects juice-filled vesicles or segments. The aroma comes from small sacs of volatile oils embedded just below the surface of the peel. These aromatic oils were highly valued by the ancients, perhaps more so than the fruit itself, until selection and breeding eventually produced sweeter fruit.
Buying and Storage Tips The simple rule for oranges and most other citrus fruits is that they should feel firm and heavy for their size. Good color and a fresh appearance are also important. Avoid fruit that is misshapen or obviously damaged.
Most citrus fruit, oranges, lemons and limes in particular, will keep at room temperature for 3 or 4 days and up to 2 weeks if refrigerated. Mandarins and tangelos are more delicate and should not be kept at room temperature for more than a day or two. In the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, they'll last up to a week.
Blood Oranges The dark orange rind of this Italian favorite contains red flesh that's a colorful and lovely complement to cheese platters and fruit salads. The deep color means it has more antioxidants than other oranges. The flavor is sweet with hints of raspberry. Available November through early spring. See entries for Common Sweet Oranges, Navel Oranges and Seville Oranges.
Buddha's Hand / Citrons Buddha's hand, or fo shu kan in Chinese, is a mutant form of citron (Citrus medica), one of the first citrus fruits to reach Europe from Asia. Ordinary citrons resemble very large, rough lemons and have thick rinds and dry flesh that tastes slightly of lemon. The rind is highly fragrant and is often used to scent rooms; it can also be candied. When mature, the Buddha's hand citron has five or more extended lobes that resemble a human hand and is a symbol of happiness in China.
Clementines Clementines are a darkly colored variety of mandarin, or tangerine, popular in the American Southwest, from Texas to California. Small and thin skinned, they are easy to peel, have few or no seeds and separate easily into segments. Perfect for snacking out of hand or as an addition to green or fruit salads. Clementines originated in Algeria around 1900 CE and were brought to the United States shortly thereafter. The season runs from November through January. See entries for Mandarins and Satsumas.
Common Sweet Oranges Valencia is the most important and ubiquitous variety of many in this category. Primarily used for juice, sweet oranges have a mild flavor that is often augmented during the commercial juicing process with peel oils. They can be eaten out of hand but are more difficult to peel and segment than navel oranges. The season for Valencias runs from March through June with other varieties filling out the calendar year. See entries for Blood Orange, Navel Orange and Seville Orange.
Grapefruits Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) is the most recent offspring of the Citrus family - a family prone to hybridization - appearing in the West Indies in the 18th century. A cross between the sweet orange and pomelo, grapefruit is a large, round citrus fruit with a somewhat bitter flavor that is an acquired taste for some. Its assertive flavor recommends it as a dessert fruit rather than one for cooking. Difficult to peel, it is often halved and eaten with a spoon. Globally, about half the grapefruit crop is used for juice. A milder flavored pink variety appeared in 1913. Grapefruit is available year round but supply peaks in January.
Key Limes Also called West Indian or Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia), this small, yellow-green fruit is the original or true lime and the most acidic of all citrus fruits. It is the dominant variety everywhere except North America. It can be squeezed over green salads, in ice water, atop seafood soups and fish dishes, with rum drinks of all kinds and, of course, in Key lime pie. In the Middle East and Asia, dried limes are used extensively in stews, giving them a pleasantly tangy flavor. Available year round with supply peaking June through August. See entry for Persian lime.
Kumquats This smallest fruit of the citrus family boasts an edible rind and a juicy, slightly tart flesh. A wonderful addition to salads (use whole). Also used in preserves and jams, or candied. Native to China, though now grown in the United States and Japan. Available throughout the winter months.
Lemons Lemons are perhaps the most versatile citrus fruit and certainly the most important for cooking, having been used as an accompaniment for fish and seafood for centuries; as a souring agent; a crucial ingredient in sweet dishes such as meringue and chiffon pies, mousses and soufflés; a source of both flavor and pectin in jams and jellies; a delicate substitute for vinegar in salad dressings; a flavor enhancer for tropical fruits like guava and papaya and, of course, lemonade. Lemons are available year round with the U.S. fifth in production behind India, Argentina, Spain and Iran.
Mandarins Also known as tangerines in the U.S., mandarins (Citrus reticulata) are smaller, flatter and have less acid than oranges. Their delicate flavor is lost in cooking so mandarins are usually eaten fresh. They are typically more darkly colored than oranges, with looser skins that peel and segment easily. Available November through spring. See entries for Clementines and Satsumas.
Minneolas A variety of tangelo. See entry for Tangelos.
Navel Oranges Easily peeled and seedless, navel oranges (a member of the Citrus sinensis species) are the best choice for eating fresh. They are distinguished from other oranges by a navel-like depression on the blossom end, beneath which is a miniature set of segments. Juice squeezed from navel oranges becomes very bitter within minutes due to a compound called limonin. Navel oranges originated in China and are now cultivated in subtropical areas worldwide. The season runs from late October through April in the U.S., with the best quality oranges available in mid-season, December to February. See entries for Blood Oranges, Common Sweet Oranges and Seville (bitter) oranges.
Persian Limes Persian limes (Citrus latifolia), called Bears limes in California, are the dominant variety in North America and the only one cultivated here. Typically used to flavor beverages of all sorts, they are twice the size of Key limes and seedless. Available year round in produce departments.
Pomelos, Pummelos The largest of all citrus fruits, this huge pear-shaped parent of the grapefruit has an orangish-yellow rind and can be eaten like grapefruit, though its flavor is much less bitter. Remove the white pith before eating. Available in January and February.
Satsumas Satsumas are a type of mandarin orange developed in Japan in the 16th century. They are less acid than other mandarins. Commonly used for canning, they are seedless, thin-skinned and easily peeled and segmented. Available December to April. See entries for Clementines and Mandarins.
Seville (bitter) Oranges Not popular in North America, Seville oranges are mostly grown in Spain (hence the name) and used by the British to make marmalade. The dried rind is used in some Mediterranean cultures as an aromatic for savory stews and the like. See entries for Blood Orange, Common Sweet Orange and Navel Orange.
Tangelos Tangelos are a cross between mandarins and pomelos or mandarins and grapefruit. The best known varieties in the U.S. are Minneola, with a rich, sharp flavor and distinctive pronounced knob on the stem end, and Orlando, a pale orange fruit with a mild flavor. Its juice is well suited to salad dressings and sauces for meats. Available January through March. See entry for Ugli fruit.
Ugli Fruit Pronounced HOO-glee in its native Jamaica, this exotic tangelo looks like an abused grapefruit in oversized clothing. But beneath that saggy, mottled and easily peeled rind are some of the sweetest and juiciest citrus segments around. Great for juicing or eating out of hand. Available December through April.
Yuzus Quite popular in Japan where it is typically used in place of lemons, the bright yellow yuzu is occasionally found in ethnic markets in North America. In Japan, its highly acidic juice is used to flavor mushrooms and its zest is added to clear soups or atop fish or cooked vegetables. Whole yuzus wrapped in cheesecloth are placed in hot bathwater to celebrate the winter solstice, a highly aromatic and sensuous experience.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Ever felt guilty about the food or the old television you chucked out? Perhaps you are a freegan at heart. Ever seen a group of healthy-looking young people going through the garbage and wondered what they are up to? Perhaps you have had a rare sighting of a freegan.
What is a freegan? A freegan is a social activist who, repulsed by the waste produced by modern society, has taken to eating food and collecting goods that have been thrown away. Freegans are driven by an anti-capitalist dogma, mixed with environmental, anti-globalization and some vegan ideals.
As the movement's manifesto (click here) declares: "Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able."
Where does a freegan eat? A freegan usually finds food that has passed its use-by-date from large rubbish bins outside supermarkets, fast food outlets, bakeries and farmers' markets. Other freegans forage in woods or in parks for edible plants or fungi. To get some handy hints, watch British restaurant critic Giles Coren going freegan for the day on YouTube (click here.)
What else do they believe? They are basically iHippies, endorsing working less, recycling, hitchhiking, cycling and squatting.
Where did the word freegan come from? "Freegan" comes from the blending of the words "free" and "vegan". It has also been suggested it comes from "free" and "gain".
What about meagans? A meagan is a meat-eating freegan, unconcerned by use-by-dates on dumped meat and dairy products. Meagans and some freegans also argue that a vegan diet is not pure as it consists of products that have an unethical provenance.
"The freegan goes further than the vegan," declares the manifesto, "noticing the plastic the tofu hot dogs are wrapped in, and thinking of fish and birds asphyxiating in slicks of oil in seas turned black with spilled crude."
Is there a movement leader? No. But Adam Weissman, a U.S. freegan, has set up freegan.info, a site which outlines the movement, as well as offering a guide to hot foraging spots across the U.S.and Canada.
For example, in Brooklyn, on Remsen street, freegans reported: "On a recent weekday night at about 10 p.m. we found abundant supplies of spelt bread, yogurt, smoked salmon, some tofu and other non-produce goodies in great shape."
How much food is wasted each year? According to the anthropologist Tim Jones, from the University of Arizona, as much as $90 to $100 billion worth of food in the U.S. is wasted each year. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Environment Agency estimates the food and drinks industry generates 10 million tonnes of waste each year, a third of which has the potential for consumption.
Are freegans taking food from the homeless? Some food retailers and wholesalers, frustrated by stringent policies that mean they must throw out food when it is past its use-by-date, donate food to homeless charities. In the UK, the charity Fareshare collects donated food from over 100 retailers and regular wholesalers, and distributes it to the homeless. Furthermore, freegans claim they only take what they need.
How much hunger is there in the world? The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimated in 2004 that more than 30 percent of the world's population in more than 70 developing countries are hungry.
According to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) analysis of data from over 43,000 tests on pesticides in conventional produce, over 90% of ingestion of pesticides in foods can be eliminated by avoiding the most contaminated foods. The "Dirty Dozen" most contaminated foods are peaches (97 percent tested positive for residue), apples (92 percent tested positive), sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. The "Consistently Clean" are onions (90 percent tested negative), avocados (90 percent), sweet corn (90 percent), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya. "Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic. Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern." Says EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles. Download your wallet-sized shopper's guide here: http://www.foodnews.org
The sun in the North is a
temporary guestWho brings
with him much warmth and
light when he comesFor a
few precious months every
year he keepsUs company
through night and day He
makes the trees green, he
makes flowers bloomHe
makes the birds sing, and
The largest genocide in
human history happened
where? Most people would
answer Germany, and the
Actually though, the
largest genocide happened
in the USA, with the
native American Indians,
with estimates of 19
million to 100 millio...
Radiation Study; Tokyo
Hayno, R.S., et al
of Adults and Children 7
to 20 Months After the
Fukushima NPP Accident as
Measured by Extensive
Surveys, Proc. Jpn....
accumulates in water
supplies after nuclear
bioconcentrates in fish
that live in fresh water
and salt water. Runoff of
fresh water from land
which has been
contaminated ends up
contaminating oceans, and
66 Atomic Bombs were
exploded on the Bikini
Island Atolls. Hundreds
of islanders were removed
from the islands, but not
from harms way. One
hydrogen bomb exploded
near the islands, and the
children played with the
dust from the bomb, as it
"Under our current law,
a suspected terrorist on
the FBI's No-Fly List
can't board an airplane
-- but they can still
legally purchase guns and
This loophole, known
Germany added more
solar panels in one
month, than the US did in
ONE YEAR. Nearly 1/3 of
Germany power output is
handled by bottoms up
solar energy during the
middle of the day. The
transition to a 100%
renewable energy nation
is in process. T...
According to the Old
Testament, which defines
all of the 'rules' of
traditional marriage, the
above examples are all of
the ways that couples can