Were you lucky enough to get an orange in your stocking? Don’t just throw it back into the fruit bowl, I’ve got 10 exciting ways to use it, from tea and cocktails, through dinner and dessert recipes.
Why is there an orange in my stocking?
Fresh oranges were rarities once upon a time in this country, and so waking up on Christmas morning to find a fresh orange in your stocking was considered a luxury. The tradition carried on in families long after oranges were more readily available. We always had a fat orange in the toe of our stockings, and mostly it just got plopped back into the fruit bowl. But here are a few more creative ways to enjoy my favorite winter fruit!
- Thinly slice whole oranges using a sharp serrated knife.
- Arrange them on a rack on a baking sheet (if you don’t have a rack put them directly on the pan)
- Bake the oranges in a 200F oven until dry, this will take 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or possibly longer. If you don’t use a rack you may need to flip them over a few times.
- Once dry you can use them decoratively on wreaths, string them with twine into garlands (add fresh cranberries!), hang them on the tree, or arrange them in a bowl with evergreens and pinecones as a holiday potpourri.
- Dried citrus slices are also edible, so add them to a cheese platter or decorate a dessert or cocktail.
- Package them in cellophane bags for easy gifting.
- Dehydrated citrus slices will last indefinitely when fully dried.
BAKE WITH IT
Citrus season hits my kitchen with a bang every winter, and I’m always ready with a bunch of new recipes that use citrus of all varieties. When I’m not making fresh tangerine scones, or cranberry orange shortbread, you might find me processing whole fruit into a flourless tangerine cake.
Every part of a piece of citrus fruit (except the seeds!) can be used in baking
- The zest (or peel) contains the fruit’s essential oils and can be grated and added to baked goods. This is where most of the flavor is.
- The juice can take the place of milk, water, or other liquids in recipes.
- Sometimes the entire fruit can be used as well, like in my tangerine cake, below.
Oranges and other citrus make delicious refreshing tea, high in Vitamin C!
FRESH orange or tangerine tea
- Start with an organic orange so that you don’t infuse chemicals into your tea.
- Peel the orange, making sure to get just the orange peel and not the bitter white pith.
- Add the peels and filtered water to a pot and bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes (or longer if you like.)
- Stain and enjoy!
- Keep the leftover tea in a container in the fridge and reheat or drink over ice.
DRIED orange or tangerine tea
- Take fresh citrus peels and lay them out on a baking sheet, or on a rack, to dry in a sunny spot. This may take several days, and you can turn them once each day.
- Once dried, put your peels in an airtight container, they’ll keep indefinitely, but I like to use them up within a year.
- Steep your dried peels in boiling water and strain for tea.
- You can also dry citrus peels in a low 200F oven as we do for the citrus slices.
- Mix your orange peel with any number of other infuse-ables ~ check out my Art of Making Tea post for ideas.
One of my favorite things to do with citrus peel is to make special infused sugar for baking. You can do this with lemon, lime, grapefruit, or any variety of orange.
- Just remove the orange peel with a vegetable peeler, being careful to just get the colored part, not the bitter white pith.
- Put it in a food processor with granulated sugar and process for a short bit until the sugar is fragrant and pale orange.
- Plan to use your orange sugar right away, it doesn’t keep well.
- See all the details in my How to Make Lemon Sugar post.
citrus sugar can be used to make:
It’s such a simple concept, but when was the last time you made yourself fresh orange juice? It’s incredibly healthy, especially when you make it yourself, but even when we lived with two orange trees in our backyard we rarely got it together to make our own juice. Pathetic!
- Instead of guzzling 64 ounce cartons of pasteurized oj, consider squeezing your own.
- Definitely include the pulp ~ fiber rich pulp helps to regulate your digestive system, control blood sugar and lower bad cholesterol levels.
- And make yourself a small glass, too much juice adds extra sugar to your diet (there’s a reason juice glasses are small!)
- To cut down on the sugar, mix your orange juice with sparkling water.
Your daily orange juice will be a culinary event when you take the time to explore and compare different varieties…try clementine and mandarin one day, and navel or Honeybell the next. Each one will yield a different color and taste. All varieties of orange make amazing juice, but none is more exciting than blood orange. The color and flavor is like nothing else you’ve ever juiced, promise!
- The Italians enjoy their spremuta in small glasses, always fresh squeezed and it’s part of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. Americans guzzle, where Italians savor. Lesson learned.
Clementine jam is an unexpected perk of winter citrus season. The clementines roll out early, and when they’re good, they’re exceptional. Sweet, seedless, and thin skinned, they can be made into this unique jam which concentrates their flavor and is so delicious on hot biscuits or toast.
- I use everything but the peel and seeds in this jam, so this recipe depends on starting with good sweet fruit.
- No pectin necessary for this jam, I just cook the pureed fruit down until it thickens with some sugar and a little lemon juice.
- I’ve also made blood orange jam, which highlights the delicate berry overtones of blood oranges. It has a glorious color, with none of the bitterness of marmalade.
I can’t think of another ingredient that sneaks its way into more cocktails than citrus fruit; it’s the ultimate mixer. The citric acid in fruits like lemons and oranges balances out the bite of alcohol and brightens up cocktails. Citrus juice goes famously well with gin, vodka, and rum, but it even plays well with whiskey, on occasion.
- Blood orange juice makes this blood orange margarita really exciting.
- To enjoy blood oranges past their season, freeze the juice. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer the cubes into heavy duty zip lock bags,
More orange juice cocktails
This is for citrus purists, it’s the ultimate way to enjoy the fruit. When cut this way, citrus is all fruit: no seeds, pith, or membrane to interfere with your juicy enjoyment. Don’t buy those absurdly expensive little containers of supremed fruit at the grocery store, you can easily do it yourself.
- Use a good sharp knife, serrated is best.
- Slice off the top and bottom of the fruit and sit it on your cutting board steadily.
- Take the knife and run it from top to bottom, just under the skin, following the curve of the fruit to remove the peel. Do this around the orange until it’s completely peeled.
- Holding the fruit in one hand, cut along the edge of each section’s membrane, on both sides, so that the wedge of fruit slides out, membrane free. Do this over a bowl, there will be juice.
- You’ll be left holding the membranes (gross word, but accurate) minus the delicious fruit sections.
- Squeeze the membranes over the bowl of fruit to get every last bit of juice. Discard the remains.
What to do with supremed citrus fruit
Omg, what can’t you do with supremed fruit?
- Make a spicy Moroccan citrus salad
- Make a quick salsa for baked fish
- Add the juicy segments to any fruit plate or fruit tart
- Any citrus fruit will work in a simple side salad, like my blackberry and grapefruit salad.
- Top breakfast bowls and yogurt.
TURN IT INTO DINNER
Truth be told, the main reason there is always a bowl of fresh citrus on my counter is mostly because I rely on it for so many of my regular dinner recipes. Chicken, in particular, pairs well with citrus fruit.
- I make tangerine chicken with seasonal tangerines, our tradition is to make this on New Year’s Eve.
- Blood oranges and olives makes roast chicken a whole lot more exciting, trust me.
- Roast chicken with allspice and citrus makes good use of ALL the citrus.
- Roasted Chicken with Clementines is an Ottolenghi classic.
Citrus fruit is a must with fish
Citrus features in just about every fish recipe we make in this house.
JUST EAT IT
You’ve probably been cutting your orange the wrong way your entire life.
Nope, nope, nope, and nope. That’s not right.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the top and bottom off the orange.
- Slice halfway down into the orange, and then open it out like a fan.
I like this method because it’s easy and it encourages me to eat the whole orange, healthy membranes (fiber rich) and all.