The Major Mistake You're Making With Citrus Fruits—Plus How to Buy and Store Them

Plus, find out the one mistake every home cook makes with their citrus.

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There's nothing like the taste of a juicy clementine or tart grapefruit when you're craving a bite of something refreshing. While citrus fruit usually peak in winter, they're available all year long for snacking. From fresh orange juice to segments garnished on honey toast or a crisp salad, citrus is a versatile and delicious fruit. Luke Sears, the president of LGS (a major importer of oranges, lemons, clementines, and more), notes that more home cooks should try to use the entire citrus fruit, rather than just eating what's on the inside. "You can easily prevent food waste by using the peel in everything from summer cocktails to a garnish (like key lime pie). It can be used raw, cooked, or most popularly, as a garnish." Below, Sears shares three key tips for storing, shopping for, and using citrus fruit.

Choosing Ripe Citrus Fruit

These warm-hued produce mainstays make for easy picking in the grocery store. When shopping for citrus, avoid choosing fruit that is bruised or browning on the outside. That's a clear indication it might not be at its best. Feel for fruit that is evenly firm but shows some resistance when you press into it. A lemon that is too firm, for example, won't release as much juice as a slightly softer lemon.

Sears explains that most of the citrus sold in grocery stores is already ripe. "Citrus actually ripens on the tree," he says. "There are actually many different varieties of citrus and these varieties have been cultivated in order to keep your kitchen stocked with fresh citrus year-round."

How to Store Citrus

From grapefruits to kumquats and everything in between, Sears says citrus fruit can be safely stored at room temperature for three to four days. The best part of this method is that the citrus acts as a natural air freshener, as there are bright, fragrant essential oils in the peel. Sears recommends that if you're looking to extend the shelf life of citrus at home, "store your citrus in the crisper section of your refrigerator for two to four weeks."

How to Juice a Citrus

What's the best way to juice a lemon or lime without getting seeds and flesh mixed in? Use a citrus press! Our favorite citrus press will get every last drop out of your lemon while leaving all the unwanted bits behind. From lemons to limes to oranges, there is a press for every type of citrus so buy one or buy them all, depending on your juicing habits. These types of presses are best to use for when you need just a couple tablespoons of juice for a recipe, not if you're making a whole glass of green juice or freshly squeezed OJ.

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