Food & Drink

Citrus gets better with storage?

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Citrus gets better with storage?

I bought one of those wrapped-up Chinese pomelos from RCSS last year, either September or October ($0.94). Sat in my pantry until the new year when I moved it into the fridge. Peeled it today and it is one of the tastiest and juiciest I've had in this country. Given how long it was stored, I was expecting something dry. Skin and rind was starting to soften (maybe it always was, never unwrapped it).

So, do citrus fruits get better with aging?
Cream rises to the top. So does scum.
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Nov 15, 2008
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No, they are "non-climacteric" which means after picking they just decay. "Climacteric" fruits like apples & bananas continue to ripen after picking. They also give off a lot of ethylene making everything they are near ripen (or rot) faster too.

I think you got a good pomelo & what saved it is a combination of waxing & their particularly thick skin & then chilling. Most citrus (and apples) are waxed after harvest to keep them from drying out. European cookbooks will always tell you to buy unwaxed citrus for making zest, but here they do not make that distinction because I do not think you really have that option. Maybe organic lemons are unwaxed, but citrus are often both lightly dyed to increase appeal & then waxed too. They should naturally be closer to matte, not glossy. Compare, mandarins/clementines are often unwaxed & have really thin skins so they are bad for drying out & the fridge does not help any. Tangerines usually show up waxed. With dye things are shifting since the days when everybody was dye-crazy (remember red pistachios? Now even natural in-shell pecans are turning up in stores. Until very recently they have been traditionally dyed red too). They tend to use red netting to create the optical illusion that citrus fruits are more orange than they are out of the package now.

I get a kick out of people who look at strawberries with white heels in the grocery store. I pass, they pick up a pint & tell me they will get better once they ripen more. Strawberries are non-climacteric so the best they are going to be for you is the state that they are in when you see them in the store. If they have been chilled heavily it causes a lot of cell damage & they will rot even quicker. The chilling also kills a lot of the delicate flavours (just as with tomatoes - though tomatoes are climacteric). There is no point to buying either tomatoes or strawberries in the winter because the industry chills the heck out of them this time of year & charges you double. A lot of citrus are winter crops & they can handle a chill without losing fragrance/flavour. They do not get any better but they do not get any worse either.

Some starchier fruits like apples, pears, & some tropical fruit like bananas, plantains, papayas, mangoes can get sweeter after picking because starch converts to sugar as they ripen, but you can halt this by chilling them. Berries including grapes & cherries, citrus, most kinds of melon, any Prunus sp. (plum, peach, nectarine & all crosses) do not get sweeter.

Some vegetables are affected by cold & it can go either way: potatoes get sweet (particularly yellow ones) & the additional sugars burn dark brown when you fry them. Cold ruins potatoes. Anything in the cabbage family benefits from a chill & gets pleasantly sweet (cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bok choi, gai lan, rapini, others) & they are often left in the field until a frost to get a better product. Corn goes from sweet to starchy even in the fridge. I think that is why frozen corn generally sucks compared to canned.
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Jun 4, 2020
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Thanks @lecale. Learned some new terms here. Unfortunately im the guy buying the strawberries... My kid is very routine driven and strawberries are the night snack - don't mess with it
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KevinM56081 wrote: Thanks @lecale. Learned some new terms here. Unfortunately im the guy buying the strawberries... My kid is very routine driven and strawberries are the night snack - don't mess with it
lol. Just remember this rule of thumb: if you buy strawberries chilled, put them in a warmer area of the fridge when you get home. They will have too much cell damage & mold quickly if you keep them out.

If you manage to get them close to room temperature as when local berries are in season, they can stay out on the counter. The benefit is that you do not chill off any delicate flavours, but you have to eat them all within 48 hours because they will go bad that quickly in our nice toasty homes.

The discount stores always have nicer berries because they do not chill them as aggressively. The problem is that they do not generally have them at the peak of winter. That is because they have been chilled so much & need to remain chilled at the same level, & only the top tier supermarkets are set up with a berry chill case so they are the only ones that can manage them at this time of year. As soon as it gets warm again you should check out the discount chains.
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May 2, 2009
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Off topic I guess but citrus related. The best limes I've had in years are the Loblaws branded Imperfect Limes in mesh bags. These limes are so juicy, and they have more lime taste than any others. Some seem to be a different strain, bitter lime or similar. Absolutely delicious.

I tasted these blind as a drink was made for me with no idea of what limes were used. Commented, very emphatically, how good the lime was. Lol.
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bonterra wrote: Off topic I guess but citrus related. The best limes I've had in years are the Loblaws branded Imperfect Limes in mesh bags. These limes are so juicy, and they have more lime taste than any others. Some seem to be a different strain, bitter lime or similar. Absolutely delicious.

I tasted these blind as a drink was made for me with no idea of what limes were used. Commented, very emphatically, how good the lime was. Lol.
Citrus especially lemons & limes get juicier as they age. Fresh ones are quite solid inside but as the peel & pith dehydrates all the water concentrates in the pulp. Probably the Naturally Imperfect ones were not moving as fast & got a chance to juice up a bit more than the fresher singles. If you are buying citrus for drinks, it is best to buy them a week or more ahead at least and even let them sit out. They harden on the outside making them easier to juice. The inside will get juicier whether you leave them out or keep them refrigerated so I do not think it counts as ripening, because cold halts ripening, more "aging."
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May 2, 2009
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lecale wrote: If you are buying citrus for drinks, it is best to buy them a week or more ahead at least and even let them sit out.
Thanks. Yup, definitely buying them for drinks. Lol.
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Mar 20, 2009
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I only occasionally purchase oranges, and when I do, I buy them from Costco.
I guess I really need to pay attention to time of year, and type of orange?
About a year or so ago, the bag they sold was amazing tasty, and easy to peel.
Bought it a few times - loved it.
Then there was a stretch where the bags they sold tasted so terribly bland.

Any Costco orange experts who can pass on some advice?
I honestly have not paid much attention, but feel I should learn.
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Roughly there are seedless winter navel oranges (navel or cara cara) in the winter & spring, November- April & seeded, less bitter juice oranges like Valencia March - June from the US.

July through October there are slimmer pickings for top dollar from other global sources but we have all kinds of other local fruits in harvest season then.

Mandarins are November to January. Clementines are best at the same time of year from high-heat countries like Morocco, Spain, Northern Africa. It is worthwhile to check the country of origin for them.

I pass on oranges from May to October because I do not like seeds & the thin peels on the Valencias & eat local during our fruit season, do buy mandarins, & try & save the clementines for the holiday season. If you are price-conscious you will fall in the same pattern anyway & the accidental benefit is the best quality. I recently picked up an 8 lb box of navels for $4 and I think that would get me 4 oranges imported from South Africa or Venesuela in the off season with the cost of air freight factored in for that.
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Nov 15, 2020
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lecale wrote: I recently picked up an 8 lb box of navels for $4 and I think that would get me 4 oranges imported from South Africa or Venesuela in the off season with the cost of air freight factored in for that.
The NF deal $4 gave very sweet oranges. But they started to mold within a week.
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evilYoda wrote: The NF deal $4 gave very sweet oranges. But they started to mold within a week.
Mine have been in the fridge for 12 days and they are in fine shape. The peels are just starting to dehydrate now but they are still easy to peel. Flavour is still mint.

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