Our Guide to Winter Citrus

Ask Chef Justine what ingredient she relies on most often to sharpen the flavors in our recipes, and the entire kitchen staff will answer in unison: “citrus.” According to Justine, “the sweet-tart juice and oil-rich zest offer a terrific alternative to salt and fat when I want to bring a dish into focus.” This time of year, she’s got plenty of varieties to choose from. Here are a few of the fresh citrus flavors you’ll find in your Sun Basket this season.

Blood oranges

One of the more dramatic fruits around, the blood orange boasts a color that ranges from neon red to wine-dark purple and a flavor that’s slightly more tannic than other oranges. That deep red color also signals that these fruits are rich in anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant. 

Cara Cara oranges

A cross between two varieties of navel oranges, Cara Caras have a gorgeous sunset-pink flesh. Their flavor is slightly sweeter and less acidic than other oranges. 


The workhorse of the Sun Basket test kitchen, lemons are what we use to boost the acid and balance the flavors in our recipes all year ’round. Chef Justine even recommends adding a squeeze of lemon juice as a way to save a dish you may have accidentally over-salted, too.


Both tart and sweet, limes push any dish in a slightly more tropical direction. Chef Justine uses them in many of her Southeast-Asian and Latin American-inspired dishes.

Navel oranges

These sweet, seedless fruits are the result of a mutation discovered by a missionary in a garden in Brazil in the mid-1800s. Today they are one of the most popular fruits, prized for both their flesh and their juice. If you’ve only had them raw, you’ll be delighted by roasted orange slices. The peels soften as they cook and lose their bitterness.  

Satsuma mandarins

As sweet as candy, a breeze to peel, and seedless, satsumas are one of the joys of winter. We snack on them all day long. When dinner comes around, we toss them into salads.


Their season is short, so we try to eat as many tangerines as we can from November to January. They’re one of our favorite snacks.

Illustration by @boccaccinimeadows