Citrus Stack-Up: The Best Uses for Popular Varieties
Few plants offer as much as citrus trees can; their ornamental and culinary value have few rivals. However, with so many varieties to choose from, how could anyone settle on just one to add to their garden? While citrus trees may be a large family with many different types of fruit, not all of them fare as well in our varied California climates as the varieties listed below. Here are some of our favorite citrus varieties, along with the best ways to use them.
Who doesn’t love lemons? While the tart fruit isn’t our go-to for fresh eating, they serve a wide range of culinary and household uses, making them some of our favorite types of citrus trees.
Flavor Profile: The classic, grocery-store lemon. Eureka lemons are also known as Citrus Lemons, and are one of the most common types of citrus trees commonly grown in California. They’re known for their ultra-tart flavor and tougher skin, which holds up better to zesting than thinner-skinned varieties. A strong grower that needs some room.
Best For: Savory marinades for chicken, seafood, vegetables and pork, marmalades, and homemade natural cleaning solutions.
Flavor Profile: The lovechild of a lemon and a mandarin orange, Meyer lemons are the sweeter of the lemon varieties and definitely among the most coveted types of citrus trees for home gardeners. Meyers are exceptionally juicy, thin skinned and delightfully seedless, so their juice is easy to collect and even easier to enjoy!
Best For: Baking (particularly for making lemon curds!), lemonades, preserved lemons.
There are countless recipes that just don’t work without limes, from Mexican specialties to refreshing cocktails. Interestingly, the difference between lime tree varieties is quite significant, so choose your citrus wisely based on the way you wish to use it!
Flavor Profile: Key limes are known for their bolder, herbal flavor, which is very potent in small bursts. Their rind is quite leathery, which holds up well to zesting.
Best For: Recipes that call for a bit of complexity; like adding acidity to Mexican recipes, blending into fresh sauces and salsas, and of course, baking—especially its namesake, key lime pie!
Flavor Profile: Bearss limes are seedless, making them the best type of lime trees to grow if you’re looking to maximize the amount of juice per citrus! While Bearss don’t have quite the same floral quality as key limes do, they grow abundantly and produce a generous amount of tart juice with a pronounced lime flavor.
Best For: Spritzing on grilled meat, marinades for meats and vegetables, whisking into salad dressings, and squeezing fresh into cocktails like margaritas and mojitos.
Also known as mandarin oranges or clementines, tangerines may be the absolute best types of citrus trees for fresh eating.
Flavor Profile: Algerian tangerines are beloved by children everywhere! Their thin skins are easy for even tiny fingers to peel, they’re seedless, and their super-sweet fruit and lack of bitter pith make them coveted in school lunchboxes.
Best For: Fresh eating, though they’re also excellent for canning or adding fresh segments to salads.
It may not have a perfect rhyme in the English language, but as types of citrus trees go, the orange is pretty near perfect. The fruit is tart enough for cooking, sweet enough to eat fresh, and filled with aromatic zest with a million and one uses.
Flavor Profile: Unlike some other navel orange varieties, Washington navel is seedless and easy to peel. These oranges, which are packed with sweet and slightly tart flavor, are best grown inland for the best-tasting fruit.
Best For: Eating fresh, fresh-pressed juice, candying, adding to marinades, making marmalades, and making natural household cleaning vinegars, polishes, and concentrates.
Flavor Profile: Sweet and tasty, and happy to grow anywhere in Orange County—even on the coast where navels can sometimes be less sweet. Valencia ripens in summer, while navels ripen in winter, so if you have space, plant both and enjoy year-round produce!
Best For: Making marmalades, juicing, zesting, syrups, cocktail garnish, and always great for fresh eating.
Looking to add a burst of color to your landscape with fruit trees? You’ll find these and more delicious options at our Newport Beach Plant Nursery. Visit us today to explore our full selection!