Flavor 101: How to Pair Citrus Fruits and Spices

Citrus and spice combined are great for many unique recipes. Learn all you need to know about pairing citrus fruits and spices by reading this quick guide!

There are few times of year that fruit and spice combinations come together more than during the holidays. Age-old Christmas traditions like mincemeat pie are staples in Western culture.

Throughout the year, you can maintain these festive recipe traditions with the right fruit pairings. Check out these tips on pairing fresh citrus fruits and spices in your next recipe.

The Science of Spice and Fruit Pairings

Around 80 percent of what we taste actually comes from our sense of smell. For this reason, spices can add a wonderful touch to any fruit dish.

When planning out your food pairings, focusing on smell, taste, and touch will help you get the best results. Touch includes the texture and temperature of the dish you plan to serve.

Plan for the Time of Year

Consider the time of year when creating your fruit and spice recipes. Temperature affects how you experience texture and taste during a meal.

Pairing the right temperature with the right smell can be very comforting. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are staples of cold winter months and are likely to give a reminder of snuggling up by a warm fire.

Use these memories to blend together your favorite fruit with one of these spices to create the perfect comfort food. During warm weather months, spices added directly to fruit offer a light, healthy meal option. 

Common Fruit and Spice Recipes

Salads commonly include fruits and spices to create new flavors. For example, sliced watermelon, fresh tangerines, and cilantro is a refreshing lunch during the summer. 

Adding mandarin oranges to a salad with chicken and wontons is another option that can be improved with cilantro. Both of these salads are popular fruit pairings for warm weather.

Cold weather recipes for fruit and spices include hot beverages like apple cider and baked pastries. One of the best-known fruit and spice pairings for desserts is apple pie.

Baked ham with pineapple slices and assorted spices is another popular recipe enjoyed through the holidays that can also be enjoyed at a backyard BBQ any time of year. 

Fruit and Spice Cocktails

Wassail includes fresh-squeezed oranges, allspice berries, and cinnamon sticks. 

Prepare your wassail in the slow cooker overnight to allow the fruit and spices the chance to marinate giving your drink a richer flavor. Add brandy or gin once your beverage finishes simmering overnight. 

A Cinnamon Spiced Old Fashioned is another cocktail option that pairs rich citrus flavors with spices. To create this cocktail, you'll need cinnamon simple syrup, lemon juice, and muddled blood orange.

Combine these ingredients with bourbon and a dash of orange bitters. Use a cinnamon stick as a garnish to create a festive look.

Finding the Right Pairing

The best fruit pairings can happen at breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on whether you prefer a warm or cold option. Citrus cocktails are a great place to experiment with fruit and spice pairings because there is lots of room to get creative.

Desserts are another safe option for fruit pairings when you're first starting out. Sweet recipes are forgiving and less likely to have an unforgiving texture that isn't appetizing.

Try our seasonal citrus box while its available...the Craft Citrus Club!

Our Rio box is a 15-lb curated box of our fresh-harvested citrus from South Texas. The fruit is NOT gassed, rather it is tree-ripened. Our season runs from Nov-May for oranges, grapefruit and mandarins.

Our Grande box is a 30-lb box of either fresh-harvested Rio Red Grapefruit or Sweet Oranges from South Texas.

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