As the winter chill sets in, there’s a burst of vibrant flavors waiting to grace our tables—citrus fruits. Winter, often synonymous with cozy evenings by the fireplace and hearty comfort foods, also marks the peak of citrus season. Citrus not only adds a burst of sunshine to the gloomy winter days but also offers an array of health benefits.
In the winter, the geography of citrus cultivation plays a crucial role in the availability and diversity of citrus. While citrus trees are hardy and can thrive in various climates, certain regions become citrus havens during the winter months. California, particularly the Central Valley, is a major contributor to the winter citrus bounty in the United States. Here, the mild climate and fertile soil create optimal conditions for growing a variety of citrus fruits, from juicy oranges to tangy lemons. The southern regions of Florida also shine during the winter, with the Sunshine State living up to its name as a prime citrus-producing area. Internationally, countries like Spain, Italy, and Morocco are known for their winter citrus harvests, exporting a spectrum of flavors to global markets. The combination of these diverse growing regions ensures a continuous supply of fresh and flavorful citrus throughout the winter.
The Winter Citrus Lineup
Oranges are undoubtedly the reigning champions of winter citrus. Bursting with vitamin C, they offer a refreshing and immune-boosting kick. Varieties such as Navel and Cara Cara are particularly abundant during the winter months. Their sweet and tangy profiles make them perfect for both snacking and juicing. Chefs can experiment with orange segments in salads, create zesty marinades, or whip up a classic orange glaze for meats and desserts.
- Naval Oranges: Naval oranges are known for their sweet and slightly tangy flavor. They are less acidic than some other orange varieties, making them a favorite for fresh consumption and juicing.
- Cara Cara Oranges: Cara Cara oranges have a distinct flavor that combines the sweetness of traditional oranges with hints of cherry and berry. They are often considered sweeter and less acidic than Naval oranges.
- Bergamot Oranges (item #03154): The flesh of Bergamot oranges is less juicy than that of other common citrus varieties, and it is typically not consumed fresh due to its tart and bitter taste. However, the peel imparts a unique citrus flavor with floral and slightly spicy notes.
- Valencia Oranges: Valencia oranges are characterized by a sweet and slightly tart flavor profile. They are often favored for juicing due to their high juice content and well-balanced taste.
- Blood Oranges: Blood oranges have a distinct flavor that combines the sweetness of oranges with berry-like undertones. The presence of anthocyanins, natural pigments responsible for the red color, contributes to their unique taste.
Grapefruits, with their invigorating tartness, add a sophisticated twist to winter dishes. Pink and red varieties dominate the market during this season. The bitterness of grapefruit pairs wonderfully with arugula in salads, or chefs can elevate seafood dishes with a grapefruit ceviche.
- Ruby Red Grapefruit: The classic Ruby Red grapefruit is renowned for its vibrant red or pink flesh, offering a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. Its succulent and juicy texture makes it a popular choice for breakfast or as a refreshing snack.
- White Grapefruit: White grapefruits, such as the Marsh or Duncan varieties, have a paler flesh and tend to be less sweet, with a sharper, more traditional grapefruit flavor.
- Oro Blanco Grapefruits: A cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo, present a milder, less acidic taste, resembling a sweeter version of a traditional grapefruit.
Mandarins are the perfect snack-sized citrus delights. Easy to peel and bursting with sweetness, mandarins, including varieties like Satsuma, Gold Nugget, Shasta Gold, Ojai Pixie and Clementine (item #98755), are a winter favorite. Chefs can use segments in desserts, infuse their flavor into cocktails, or create a vibrant salsa to accompany grilled proteins.
- Satsuma Mandarins (item #10543): Satsuma mandarins, often simply referred to as Satsumas, are a distinct and popular variety of mandarin oranges known for their sweetness, ease of peeling, and seedlessness.
While lemons are available year-round, their peak season often coincides with winter. Known for their bright acidity, lemons can transform any dish. Chefs can use lemon zest to enhance the flavor of baked goods, create a zesty lemon vinaigrette for salads, or whip up a classic lemon curd for a decadent dessert.
- Meyer Lemons (item #10511): Meyer lemons are notably sweeter compared to traditional lemons. Due to their sweeter and less acidic nature, Meyer lemons are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and particularly prized in baking.
Limes are a citrus fruit known for their bright green color, tart flavor, and versatility in various culinary applications. They are a popular ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes, adding a refreshing and tangy kick to beverages, salads, marinades, desserts, and more.
- Finger Limes (item #40500): Finger limes, also known as caviar limes or citrus caviar, are a unique and tiny citrus fruit with a distinctive appearance. What sets finger limes apart is their elongated shape and the tiny, bead-like juice vesicles inside. These vesicles resemble caviar, giving rise to the alternative name. The flavor of finger limes is typically tart, similar to traditional limes, but with a unique textural experience.
- Buddha Hand Citron (item #20977): The flavor of Buddha’s hand citron is distinct and aromatic. It is known for its intense citrus fragrance without the typical juiciness or pulp found in other citrus fruits. One of the primary uses of Buddha’s hand is its zest. The peel is rich in essential oils, imparting a strong citrus aroma to dishes.
- Kumquats – Unlike many other citrus fruits, kumquats are typically eaten whole, including the peel, which is sweet, and the flesh, which is tart. They add a distinctive sweet and tangy flavor to dishes and are often enjoyed fresh, candied, or used in jams and preserves.
Want the fresh citrus taste without the whole fruit? Check out our selection of Natalies Juices for fresh citrus juice options like blood orange, fresh lemon, fresh lime, grapefruit, orange and tangerine.
Liven up your winter roasts by incorporating citrus flavors. Marinate meats in a blend of orange, lemon, and grapefruit juices for a refreshing and aromatic twist.
Winter Citrus Salads:
Create vibrant salads by combining a variety of citrus segments with greens, nuts, and cheese. The combination of sweet and tangy citrus adds complexity to the dish.
From tarts to sorbets, winter citrus can be the star of your dessert menu. Experiment with citrus curds, candied peels, or even a grapefruit and thyme-infused panna cotta.
Craft refreshing cocktails using winter citrus. From classic margaritas with a twist of mandarin to grapefruit mojitos, the options are endless.
Winter is truly the season of citrus, offering a burst of flavor and a nutritional boost when we need it most. Chefs can explore the diverse world of winter citrus to create dishes that are not only delicious but also celebrate the unique qualities of each fruit. While some of our citrus comes and goes with seasonal availability, reach out to your customer advocate with questions or help sourcing something specific. So, let the citrus celebration begin, and infuse your winter with a burst of sunshine!
In the heart of Kentucky, a remarkable initiative is making a significant impact on local communities. What Chefs Want, in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, is taking part in the Local Food Purchasing Agreement (LFPA) program. This is a venture that goes beyond just providing meals—it’s about building stronger local food systems and supporting Kentucky farmers. The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.
Connecting Families with Local Goodness
Since its launch, the LFPA program has successfully connected thousands of Kentucky families with the bounty of local seasonal produce, value-added goods, and meats. The goal is simple yet profound: ensuring that families have access to fresh, locally sourced food at no cost.
In Kentucky, What Chefs Want is playing a pivotal role in the program by packing and distributing food boxes from the Bardstown warehouse, while also administering and funding distributions through key subcontractors such as Black Soil KY, Need More Acres and Locals Food Hub & Pizza Pub. The goal is ambitious: pack and distribute a total of 30,000 boxes in collaboration with partners by the summer of next year. Together, they are actively strengthening the local food system, supporting farmers, and creating a network that benefits both producers and consumers alike.
What Chefs Want has been actively involved in this project for a year, operating within a broader framework that includes the LFPA, the Federal purchasing program, and collaborations with various states, including Ohio and Kentucky. In Ohio, the team has been packing 500 boxes a week for the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, showcasing the success and scalability of their efforts.
LFPA Grants: A Closer Look
The LFPA program is backed by a substantial grant of $11,035,420 from the USDA, extending the grant period to August 2025. Exclusive purchases of local and regional foods, networking opportunities, and financial benefits for locally produced goods are key priorities.
What Chefs Want’s involvement in the LFPA program exemplifies a commitment to community well-being, sustainable food systems, and supporting local farmers. As they continue to make strides in Ohio and Kentucky, the impact of their efforts is not just seen in the numbers but felt in the lives of the families they serve. The LFPA program is a shining example of how partnerships between government agencies, businesses like What Chefs Want, and community organizations can create lasting positive change.
🎃👻 Welcome, fellow kitchen magicians, to a spine-tingling tour of the eerie and exotic produce that’s bound to haunt your kitchen this Halloween season! We’ve summoned a ghoulish gallery of weird and wonderful ingredients that will make your culinary cauldron bubble with delight. No need to be a “ghoulmet” to enjoy these mysterious morsels!
Salsify – The Ghostly Root 👻
Flavor Profile: Salsify, with its slender, parsnip-like appearance, has a subtle, earthy flavor with hints of oyster and artichoke.
Fun Fact: Roast or puree salsify for a side dish that’ll make your taste buds howl or use it as a secret ingredient in a devilishly delightful soup.
Chinese Eggplant – The Purple Phantoms 💀
Flavor Profile: Slim and svelte, Chinese eggplants have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, perfect for absorbing savory sauces.
Fun Fact: Slice and dice these purple phantoms for a ghoulish stir-fry or a wicked tempura dish.
Lotus Lilly Root – The Swampy Relic 🐉
Flavor Profile: With a crunchy texture and a subtle, nutty flavor, these aquatic wonders add a mystical touch to your dishes.
Fun Fact: Add slices to a sinister stir-fry or tempura, bringing an otherworldly crunch to your meal.
Gooseberries – The Enchanted Orbs 🦢
Flavor Profile: Tangy and sweet, these bewitched berries offer a burst of flavor with a hint of sourness.
Fun Fact: Gooseberries make spellbinding jams and jellies for your spooky morning toast.
Bulls Blood Micromix – The Haunting Greens 🌱
Flavor Profile: This blend of microgreens combines the earthy taste of beets with a hint of spinach, making it a ghastly garnish.
Fun Fact: Use these haunting greens as a creepy crown on top of your ghoulish soups or eerie entrees.
Romanesco – The Alien Cauliflower 🛸
Flavor Profile: This fractal-like brassica boasts a nutty, earthy flavor, perfect for a truly out-of-this-world experience.
Fun Fact: Roast it with some olive oil and garlic for an otherworldly side dish.
Finger Limes – The Wicked Wonders 🧟♂️
Flavor Profile: These citrus grenades burst with tangy, caviar-like pearls of flavor, like a citrus potion for your dishes.
Fun Fact: Use them as garnish on spooky cocktails or salads for a surprising burst of citrusy “scream.”
Black Garlic – The Vampire’s Delight 🦇
Flavor Profile: Fermented garlic that’s dark as midnight, it offers a sweet, molasses-like richness with a hint of umami.
Fun Fact: Create a sinisterly delicious black garlic aioli for your monstrous burgers or pasta dishes.
Kohlrabi – The Alien Abduction 👽
Flavor Profile: This extraterrestrial-looking veggie tastes like a crisp and mild blend of radish and broccoli stems.
Fun Fact: Slice them into spooky UFO-like discs and dunk them in your favorite dip for a cosmic snack.
Cactus Pears – The Prickly Surprise 🌵
Flavor Profile: These thorny treasures offer a sweet, watermelon-like flavor with a hint of kiwi.
Fun Fact: Turn cactus pears into a bewitching jelly for spreading on sinister scones.
Brown Clamshell Mushrooms – The Fungal Fright 🍄
Flavor Profile: These dark, delicate mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor with a hint of nuttiness.
Fun Fact: Sauté them with garlic and butter for a creepy side dish or use them to make a sinister mushroom risotto.
Item #30033, Item #99752
Cactus Leaves – The Prickly Palms 🌵
Flavor Profile: With a tangy, slightly tart taste and a crisp texture, cactus leaves add a unique twist to your dishes.
Fun Fact: Grill them to create eerie cactus leaf tacos, or slice them thinly for a ghostly, crunchy slaw.
Purple Potatoes – The Witch’s Stash 🧙♀️
Flavor Profile: These potatoes offer a rich, earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness and a vivid purple hue.
Fun Fact: Mash them into a spine-chilling purple potato puree or slice them into eerie, violet chips.
Artichokes – The Heart of Darkness 🖤
Flavor Profile: With a meaty, nutty taste, artichokes are perfect for dipping in sauces or adding a mysterious touch to pasta.
Fun Fact: Hollow out the artichoke hearts, stuff them with delectable fillings, and bake for a hauntingly good appetizer.
Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from experimenting with these sinister ingredients. What Chefs Want is here to supply the creepiest and most captivating ingredients for your culinary spells. This Halloween season, dare to be different, and let your kitchen become the cauldron of curiosity where taste and terror collide! Mwahaha! 🎃🕷️👹