Winter Citrus Delights: A Comprehensive Guide to Citrus Fruits That Brighten Your Winter Days

Winter Citrus Delights: A Comprehensive Guide to Citrus Fruits That Brighten Your Winter Days

Especially as you're craving a fresh, just-squeezed glass of orange juice, you might ask yourself, "When is citrus in season?" Generally, winter is prime time for citrus fruits, although varieties are grown throughout the year based on location and climate.

Whether to savor the winter citrus harvest in California, or to know more about this class of fruits, we've put together a guide to common varieties, covering many grown at Frog Hollow Farm and by our farm partners:

What is a Citrus Fruit?

No matter when or where it's grown, citrus fruits stand upon a handful of key characteristics. They all have a thick, somewhat pithy rind designed to be peeled off and that can be zested for its oils, which add flavor to sauces, desserts and other dishes. Rinds also have aromatic properties and therefore get used for extracts.

Peeling the rind gives way to a pulpy, juicy center that divides into smaller segments. You can eat the segments as is, puree them or juice them.

In terms of flavor and nutritional qualities, the flesh itself spans a spectrum from sharp and tart to sweet and honey like.

Behind this range and the hundreds of varieties out there, citrus fruits originated in South and East Asia, perhaps brought over initially from Australia and Oceania. Today's fruits can be traced back to the cross-breeding between the citron - a tangy, pith-heavy fruit - and the mandarin and pomelo.

In all cases, citrus fruits deliver a combination of the following benefits:

  • High amounts of vitamin C.
  • Antioxidant properties known for their anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce cancer risks and improve metabolic and immune system health.
  • Low amounts of sugar.

Types of Citrus Fruits

In the United States, the most common types of winter citrus and other varieties include:


Oranges encompass a vast spectrum of roughly 400 subtypes. Taste wise, they cover an equally broad array - ranging from tart to honey sweet. For orange boxes from Frog Hollow Farm, some of seasonal varieties you'll spot include:

  • Navel oranges:Navel oranges are widely eaten in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. These are characterized by an indent on one end, a thicker rind, an overall firmer feel and an acidic-leaning taste. Navels, too, also have their own spectrum, with cara caras being sweeter than other varieties out there.
  • Blood oranges: You'll recognize this orange from its deep red flesh and sweeter, richer, berry-like taste. Blood oranges tend to have a higher polyphenol content compared to other types.
  • Mandarin oranges: Mandarins are a sweeter orange with a less-acidic taste and greater juice content. Satsumas take these characteristics up a level, amping up the sweetness factor.
  • Clementines:Clementines appear similar to mandarins - in fact, many frequently confuse the two due to their smaller size. Yet, clementines are a type of smaller, easy-to-peel and sweeter tangerine and have no bitter notes.
  • Kumquats:Kumquats also fall within the spectrum of the orange family. They have a more intense, tart flavor and are also known for an edible peel. You, in turn, can eat them whole, peel and all, or puree them whole.
  • Tangerines:Tangerines are a smaller orange with a visually brighter exterior, looser peel and honey-like to tart taste. While they, too, are a winter citrus, their growing season extends into spring.
  • Valencia oranges:Valencia oranges are known for thinner skins and juicy fruit with more seeds. Generally, this orange originating in Spain is preferred for orange juice.
  • Minneola:Minneolas balance acidic, tangy and fragrant notes, ultimately bringing together attributes of grapefruits and tangerines.
  • Other varieties: Less common in the United States are Seville oranges - used for alcoholic beverages like triple sec for its bitter flavor - and Bergamot, typically grown in Italy and sought after for its flavor-intense oil, which is often added to Earl Grey tea. We grow both varieties and use them for our highly coveted limited-production Seville orange marmalade and Bergamot orange marmalade.


Lemons are a bright yellow, acidic fruit known for a tart flavor.

In the United States, the Eureka and Lisbon varieties are the most commercially available: While they taste similar to each other, the former features thicker skin, and the latter has a thinner, easier-to-peel rind.

Outside of these two primarily used for their juice and oil, Meyer lemons go in a sweeter direction. This variety is likely a cross between a traditional lemon and a mandarin, resulting in a smaller, milder-tasting fruit with a smoother peel and floral notes. Due to these factors, Meyer lemons are ideal for baking - in fact, Chef Becky turns to them to make Frog Hollow Farm's signature Meyer Lemon Cake!


Limes stand out with their thinner, green-colored peel. While shapes and sizes vary across the world, the most commonly found is the Persian lime, which is medium sized, often seedless, partially acidic and ideal for juicing due to its tender flesh.


Similar to oranges, grapefruits run along a bitter and acidic to sweet spectrum. Said to be a hybrid between a pomelo and a sweet orange, they're known for a thicker skin and a fleshy interior ranging from whitish-yellow to pink or dark red. In terms of commercially available citrus, they're one of the larger varieties.

Grapefruits encompass the following types:

  • Pink grapefruit: This is the most widely available in the United States and is known for a sweet-tart flavor.
  • Ruby red grapefruit: Red grapefruits, like our Rio reds and Star ruby grapefruits, lean in the sweeter direction while visually having a darker peel and flesh. They're said to be an offshoot of pink grapefruits.
  • White grapefruits: These are the most bitter and tart and tend to add a puckering effect to alcoholic drinks, desserts and savory dishes.

Other Types of Citrus Fruits

Outside of these more widely seen varieties, other citrus fruits you may encounter include:

  • Pomelo: Also called a Pamplemousse, pummelo or shaddock, the pomelo is a large, melon-shaped citrus with a thick rind, few seeds and sweet flesh. They're more common in East and Southeast Asia than in the United States.
  • Yuzu: We're seeing greater demand in the U.S. for yuzus, a small, lemon-like citrus with a wrinkled exterior and low-acidic flavor. A staple of Japanese cuisine and also eaten in Korea and China, this citrus adds a mix of tart flavor and floral notes, no matter if you use the peel or the juice.
  • Citron: One of the original citrus fruits, the citron has a thicker, harder layer of bitter-tasting pith and yellow skin. Inside is a small amount of flesh with a lemon-like taste.


Explore an expansive array of citrus fruits from Frog Hollow Farm and our partners. Browse our selection to order a box today! 

Previous Article Next Article