10 ways to bring modern citrus flavours to your menu

June 27 2017

Today's discerning diners are looking for a lot of their food. It needs to taste great, look picture-perfect, and be full of ingredients that are both natural and nutritious. One way to achieve all of these aims is to include plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables on each plate that you send out - and citrus fruits can be an ideal option.

Citrus fruits have long been used as garnishes on meals - but your health-conscious customers are probably looking for more than a thin slice of orange on a lettuce leaf on the side of their plate.

One of the benefits of citrus flavours is that they aren't particularly seasonal - so they can be used throughout the year. For instance, think of a summery key lime pie or a winter-warmer like candied oranges on a slice of fruitcake. Citrus fruits are also versatile - they work well on both savoury and sweet dishes. Plus their beautiful bright colours and fresh flavours are always a welcome addition to a plate.

If you're looking for new ways to incorporate citrus flavours on your menu, here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Juices and smoothies - These are a great way for customers to up their vitamin intake, and since citrus fruit is so high in Vitamin C, these can be particularly popular during cold and flu season. But, they also provide a year-round pick-me-up, and can also make your menu seem more healthy. While fresh-squeezed orange juice might be the classic favourite, don't forget about the other citrus fruits. A dash of lime can set off other fruity flavours well, while grapefruit juice is another great morning beverage.
  • Lemonade - A drink once associated primarily with barbecues and children selling it from adorable front-yard stands, lemonade has moved beyond summer, and the recipes have evolved too. Consider incorporating other flavours into your lemonade - berries, melon, and tropical fruits are all options to try, while fresh herbs like lavender or cilantro and alternative sweeteners like agave and maple syrup are other ingredients you might want to experiment with to create your own signature beverage.
  • Grilled - Cooking citrus is a wonderful way to transform the fruit, resulting in a sweeter food with caramel notes and a more subdued flavour. A slight bit of charring or grill marks can also look amazing.
  • Candied - Soaking your citrus in a sugary syrup might make not be great for the fruit's healthful reputation, but candied citrus peel can be a delicious and colourful addition to desserts and salads, and it's also a popular cocktail garnish.
  • Infusions - Pep up your oils by infusing them with citrus flavours. Then use them to drizzle over meats, salads or other vegetable dishes. The result is a flavourful lift and a luxurious mouthfeel. Of course, oil isn't the only option for infusing flavours - you can also use citrus to bring new dimensions to salt, sugar or even bitters.
  • Preserves - A smear of orange marmalade on toast can be a treat for the tastebuds, but remember that any citrus fruit can be turned into the sweet spread. Blood oranges, grapefruit, tangerines lemon and lime can all make for unusual condiments, and those marmalades can also form the basis for a variety of sauces and dressings.
  • Fruit curd - Lemon might be the most well-known of the fruit curds, but you can make the sweet treat with any fruit - and the zing provided by the various citrus fruits certainly works well in curds. Once the curd is prepared, use it to spread on toast, flavour cakes or fill tarts.
  • Dried - Dehydrated citrus can bring an aromatic tang to a dish, and dried limes are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. Try using dried citrus flavours in dry rubs for meats, or add them to cooking liquids of rice and other grains.
  • Zest - Citrus zest has long been used to add a punch of flavour and colour to foods, but chefs are using it more and in a wider variety of dishes. For example, consider trying a bit of citrus zest on pasta or grilled meat for a fresh, clean pop of flavour.
  • Pickled - It seems like almost everything is being pickled these days, and citrus fruit is no exception. Try making a sweet citrus pickle by soaking wedges of fruit in a sweet syrup before adding white vinegar.

Thanks to their beautiful colours and bright flavours, citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes can be used in a variety of ways to create delicious meals that your customers will enjoy eating throughout the year.