Produce report: July 11
Navel oranges are finally making their way into stores. They are joined by that other citrus star, grapefruit - now brightly weighing down trees in suburban gardens. Both fruits will not ripen after picking but, if left on the tree, will continue to sweeten, making storage super easy. Indeed oranges will not even overripen. A little green is nothing to worry about either. Green on oranges is caused by chlorophyll to help protect them from sunburn and grapefruit can be picked when at least half of the peel has turned yellow. Both will keep for a week in a fruit bowl and a few weeks in the fridge but grapefruit, particularly, are juicier at room temperature. When buying, look for heavy fruit. Oranges should be blemish-free but grapefruit are hardier - they will still be good even if the skin appears a bit scratched.
Got a glut of oranges? Eat up, cook up or give away your navels. They don’t freeze well, containing a compound that makes them bitter. No such problem with grapefruit. Choose mature fruit (remember, the longer on the tree the sweeter), wash and peel, removing all the white membrane under the peel. Section fruit (reserve any juice to pour back over the top) and remove membranes and seeds. Freeze as is or cover with sugar syrup, in a sealed plastic bag or container.
Along with oranges, grapefruit are an excellent source of vitamin C. The pink varieties, like tomatoes, contain lycopene which is said to have anti-cancer properties. Because grapefruit interferes with some medications, check before consuming or putting the fruit on the menu for guests.
Aaron Brunet uses the skin and the fruit to turn his navel oranges into a citrus breakfast crumb which also makes a great healthy dessert.
And Geoff Scott turns his into delicious and very attractive candied slices to top his white chocolate New York cheesecake.
If you want to steal the topping for your own cheesecake or cakes, here’s how Geoff does it: Bring to the boil 1 litre of water and 250g sugar. Thinly slice 2 oranges. Very gently simmer in sugar syrup for 1 hour, carefully turning the oranges from time to time until they turn translucent and are completely cooked through. Cool before use.
There’s more to grapefruit than marmalade (although we are definite fans). Try grapefruit instead of lemon in Warren Elwin’s tangy curd.