ONE OF THE JOYS of living in Central Florida is just-picked citrus. We had citrus in the Great White North but it was an imported treat. Grapefruit was often picked too early and made no friends because it was still sour. Florida also has plenty of other fruits that can pair with citrus to expand the appeal of each.
Pineapple, bananas, starfruit, lychee, longan, and loquat are found in friends’ yards and some supermarkets and ethnic stores. Our huge starfruit from our tree makes the ones in the stores look pathetic. The tree, started from a sapling about ten years ago, tops 25 feet and is loaded twice a year. Most of the fruit hung on in spite of Matthew’s huffing and puffing.
Commercial mango and avocado shouldn’t be overlooked. We most often think of avocado as part of savory dishes. There is no reason it can’t be sweet, too. Here is a recipe from the California Avocados website that uses citrus, pineapple, and avocado. Don’t tell them that we have great avocados in Central Florida.
CITRUS, AVOCADO, AND PINEAPPLE SHERBET
Makes 12 servings
2 cups milk
2 cups sugar
6 pounds Florida avocados
1 1/2 cups Florida orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons minced lemon jest
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Small pinch salt
Heat milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved; do not boil. Cool to room temperature. Beat together milk mixture and remaining ingredients. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve with garnish of orange zest.
Peaches are coming on strong around here. The season is short, but tasty. Instead of a sweet dessert, let’s try an adult beverage. Sangria is easy to make, just soak fruit in something alcoholic, chill well, and pour. This recipe uses four fruits (if you have them), a trio of alcoholic liquids, and sugar with fruit of your choice to garnish the glass. It’s fine to delve into the freezer when fruits are not in season.
1 Florida orange
2 ripe Florida peaches
2 cups Florida strawberries
1 cup raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup triple sec
1/4 cup vodka
1 bottle rose wine
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
Fruit to garnish glasses
Mix everything but ice in a large container. Let it sit overnight in the fridge. To serve: Transfer to a large pitcher. Add ice. Garnish glasses with orange slices. Serve.
Spring doesn’t last long in our neck of the woods. Sometimes the only way you can tell it’s here is when strawberries hit the markets and roadside stands. Take advantage of the overlap of oranges and strawberries with a Strawberry-Orange salad. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
It will also work to top pound cake, angel food cake, or biscuits for shortcake, but you have to add whipped cream … isn’t that a shame.
This is a pretty much use-what-you-have dish, but you must have strawberries and oranges.
About three cups of hulled and halved strawberries and three large oranges sliced, peeled, seeded, and chunked should be about right. Toss them with about a quarter cup of light brown sugar or Florida orange blossom honey. Top the fruit with thinly sliced mint leaves or a dash of crème de menthe. You’re done.
CFAN TIP! This also works well with the addition of starfruit, lychee, or loquats.
Taste of Home magazine has a super-easy recipe for Orange-Blueberry Freezer Jam. The sugar is heated to make it easier to dissolve and mix with the fruit. Some cooks warm the fruit and sugar mixture in a microwave for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar.
ORANGE-BLUEBERRY FREEZER JAM
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 medium orange
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, crushed
1 pouch (3 ounces) liquid pectin
Have four clean 1-cup plastic containers ready. Warm the sugar in a 250-degree oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grate 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Peel and chop the orange. Mix berries, orange, sugar, and zest. Let mixture stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir longer if the sugar is not completely dissolved. Add pectin and stir 3 minutes to distribute it evenly. Pour the jam to within a half inch of tops of the containers. Wipe top edges of containers. Add lids and let it sit on counter 24 hours. Jam is ready to enjoy.
It should stay good for three weeks in the fridge (if the youngsters or dad don’t find it) and up to 12 months in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge.
article by TRENT ROWE, CFAN Food Editor