Bulk Food: Buying Citrus―’Tis the Season

Citrus is in season and a good buy. In line with our New Year’s resolution to use money we would have spent eating out to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, we skipped a snack at Panera after our family time (another New Year’s Resolution!) visit to the art museum and visited a local fruit market instead!

The fruit market samples most of its fruit, so it is always easy to cave in to purchasing some out- of-season delicacy. The best tasting and cheapest fruit are usually the ones that are in season.

One section of the store is lined with stacked boxes of fruit. (The boxes contain approximately a bushel of fruit and weigh about 30 pounds each.)  At this time of year, this area holds mostly citrus: several types of eating oranges and grapefruit; juicing oranges, and tangerines. The boxes varied in price by size of fruit with the smaller sizes being cheaper with higher counts of fruit per box.  We ended up purchasing a box each of grapefruit and oranges. I went for a higher count with the grapefruit because I like to eat an entire fruit at one sitting and smaller fruits are better for that. I bought the medium grade of orange because I felt they were in better shape and there was only a couple dollars difference in price.

When buying bulk fruit, be sure to open the box that you want and check out the condition of the fruit and how it is packed. If the fruit is too bruised, it won’t store well and will rot before you can eat it—a waste of good fruit and good money! Ask to sample the fruit, if they won’t let you, buy your fruit somewhere else, or ask them if you can return the box if the fruit isn’t good. (Some grocery stores will let you do this.)

I store the fruit in our cool pantry (55°F) or in a cooler corner of the basement, and it keeps very well until we are ready to eat it. Be sure the temperature of your storage place doesn’t drop below freezing. Frozen citrus is only good for the compost pile!

At this time of year in Wisconsin, the weather alternates between dreary gray and cold and bright blue and REALLY cold. Those boxes of citrus brighten the days until warmer weather. (I’d settle for temps in the high 20s F!) Begonia

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