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How to Choose Ripe Oranges and Grapefruit

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There’s nothing better than a tasty orange or grapefruit on a hot day—or any day, for that matter! Fresh, ripe citrus fruits are juicy and extremely flavorful, but underripe or overripe grapefruit and oranges can be bland or soggy. Because neither oranges nor grapefruit ripen after they’re picked, it’s important to know how to select the ripest citrus fruit possible. Here’s how to do it:


How to choose ripe oranges and grapefruit

  • Check the color: A ripe grapefruit will be slightly reddish in color. The deeper the color, the more intense the flavor will be. So what about an orange? Although it’s called an orange, the peel doesn’t necessarily have to be orange. Ripe oranges may be light colored or even tinged green. As long as the orange meets all the other ripeness criteria, you shouldn’t reject it just because it’s a tad bit green.
  • Feel: Run your hands around the outside of the fruit. Both fruits should feel plump, like they’re about to burst out of their skin. The more plump the grapefruit or orange feels, the riper it will be. Although slight bumps and pores will be noticeable, ripe citrus will have a fairly smooth and thin skin. Hold the fruit in the palm of your hand. Does it feel heavier than it looks? If so, you’ve found yourself a ripe one!
  • Squeeze it: Go ahead, squeeze the fruit. But do it gently—you don’t want to crush the poor guys! Your fingers should sink into the orange or grapefruit slightly, but the skin should bounce back to its normal shape as soon as you release the pressure. Turn the fruit halfway and squeeze it once again. You shouldn’t feel any soft spots. If you do, the fruit is probably damaged or going bad. A ripe orange or grapefruit will feel firm all the way around.
  • Shape: Both oranges and grapefruits should be slightly oval in shape with a slightly flattened bottom and top. If the fruit is too round, it’s probably underripe and bitter. Stay away from any citrus fruits that are oddly shaped or lumpy. This usually means that they were not picked soon enough and are overripe.

How to store

Store your oranges and grapefruits in a small basket at room temperature to allow for better air circulation. Ripe oranges and grapefruits should last up to 10 days. Just don’t expose your fruit to direct sunlight—the sun’s rays can damage it. Want your fruit to last longer? Store them in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place like a basement. They’ll last up to three weeks.

How to use oranges

  • For a savory meal, top your grilled chicken with orange salsa or simmer oranges to create a sauce to pour over salmon. You can also add the zest and juice of an orange to your favorite beef stew recipe for a sweet twist.
  • If sweet recipes are more your thing, use oranges to make orange cream cake, orange pecan French toast, or cinnamon orange muffins.
  • Don’t forget drinks! Oranges make awesome sangrias, orange smoothies and cosmopolitans!

How to use grapefruits

  • Looking for a yummy dinner recipe? How about grapefruit chicken, pork chops with grapefruit relish, or steak soaked in a grapefruit marinade?
  • For a sweet treat, whip up grapefruit tea cookies or tangy grapefruit pie. You can also sprinkle halved grapefruit with sugar and pepper and pop it under the broiler.
  • For a tangy drink, add fresh grapefruit juice and honey to green tea or apple cider. Or make a Salty Dog by mixing fresh grapefruit juice, salt and gin.

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