The Zest Of The Best: A Complete Guide To Citrus

The Zest Of The Best: A Complete Guide To Citrus

Citrus fruits are some of the most popular fruits used in the culinary world. The powerful acidity is what people crave. It often rounds out the flavor of sauces, salsas, marinades, juices, and more. The reason people fall in love with citrus fruits is because they hit three of the primary flavor profiles: bitter, sweet, and sour. 

People love citrus fruits for their flavor, but they should love them for their incredible nutritional profiles. The diverse flavonoid and antioxidant compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and immune-boosting properties. Additionally, the vitamin C in citrus fruits works to neutralize free radicals in the body, lowering the threat of oxidative damage. They are also rich in potassium, a mineral that the body needs for carbohydrate metabolism, heart contraction, and nerve function. 

There are too many citrus fruits to count, and that’s why we’ve decided to bring you the zest of the best. Keep reading to find out which citrus varieties rose to the top. Well, they topped our list, anyway!

Meyer Lemon

These may be the best lemons on the planet, primarily because they are slightly sour with wonderfully sweet undertones. If you want to make homemade lemonade, the Meyer lemon should be your first choice. It is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and it rose to popularity in the culinary world because of Martha Stewart, Alice Waters, and other chefs of that caliber. 


This citrus fruit has too many names to count, so we’ll just stick with pomelo. It’s one of the only three original citrus species left; all of the other varieties have been hybridized. The white pomelo has a thick pith and a sweet pink/white flesh. They are very popular in Asia during the Mooncake festival. 

Sumo Tangerine

These enormous tangerines are enormously delicious. It’s not the most attractive citrus fruit, but ugly foods are often the most delicious. It’s like an easy-to-peel mandarin, but supersized and more flavorful. Sumo tangerines are new to the United States, and people are loving them. The flavor is bold, with sweet and tart flavors that keep you coming back for more. They do cost more than the average citrus fruit, but they come from Japan, so the price makes sense. 

Blood Orange

The striking red/orange flesh of the fruit looks like a wheel of tie-dye art. The blood orange is mildly tart and beautifully sweet, and the rich pigment comes from the powerful polyphenols known as anthocyanins. You can’t always get your hands on these citrus gems, so make sure to snatch them up when you see them.

Key Lime

Almost everyone has heard of key lime pie, but these small limes are not solely reserved for baking. Many people prefer key limes to regular limes because they have a stronger alkalizing effect on the body. Key limes have a subtly sweet flavor and the juice is more floral and aromatic than that of regular lime juice. 


These little citrus fruits are entirely edible. That’s right, folks; you can eat pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the beautiful combination of the sweet skin and tart flesh. You won’t always find them in stores, but they can pop up at local farmer’s markets. Kumquat trees are also popular in many neighborhoods, so keep your eyes peeled, especially from November to March when they’re in season.

Finger Lime

The finger lime is different from most other citrus fruits, and it gets the name because it is long, just like a finger. The flesh also differs from other citrus fruit. It looks like little gelatin balls, vesicles as they are called. You can think of it like lime caviar that you can turn into a rich marmalade or add to pickling jars. You can also zest the peel for strong notes of citrus in your culinary creations.

Buddha’s Hand

This abnormal, alien-looking fruit belongs to the citrus family, but it’s definitely in a league of its own. The “fingers” open up as the fruit ripens, but you can’t really enjoy the fruit. The only usable part of this fruit is the zest because there is no flesh. Buddha’s hand has a wonderful fragrance and it is often placed as a prayer offering at pagodas or altars in Asian countries. 


This funky little citrus hybrid is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine, so the flavor is both tart and sweet. Sink your teeth into this fruit and you get hit with an immediate burst of sweetness, and the tart flavor hits you on the back nine. They are easy to peel and make great substitutes for oranges. 


Calamansi is a classic citrus fruit in both Malaysian and Filipino cuisine. The peel is green and the flesh is a bright orange, but don’t let it fool you into thinking that it is sweet. It’s only a touch sweeter than a regular lime, but it does impart unique flavor into your food. If you want to make a homemade sorbet, fresh calamansi juice is an excellent juice to use. 

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