Orange: The Color of the Season?

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Orange abounds in the fall…this warm hue seems to be everywhere from the changing leaves tothe pumpkins at the farm, and at the fall festivals to the glow of the fire pit as we gather with friends for nighttime s’mores or spiced cider.

As restaurant and hospitality consultants, our focus is always on the food and beverage side of the experience, so we want to focus on the orange itself – the sweet, healthy, and much loved citrus fruit that is not only delicious, but a versatile menu addition and ingredient.

While many think of the orange as a summer fruit, in fact most orange varieties enjoy an early seasonal start in mid-October, with some still harvest in early spring. They are always available, and depending on your specific culinary goal, a variety of oranges provide different flavor profiles.

Making fall a perfect time to celebrate the bright, sweet flavor of the orange on menus, not only for the health benefits (i.e. loaded with vitamin C, the orange is great for keeping the common cold at bay), but also for the flavor versatility when added to food and beverage preparations. From the zest and fresh juice to slices and sections, oranges prove a healthy, delicious, and cost effective ingredient.

Try incorporating varieties of oranges such as Navel, Hamlin, Blood orange, Sunburst, and Valencia’s sliced (or sectioned) over fresh green or vegetable salads; juiced in beverages like teas and scratch made sodas or dressings, glazes, and marinades for chicken, pork or seafood. You can also add the clean, bright flavor of orange zest to desserts such as fresh orange sponge cake with cranberry or raspberry jam filling, into a deliciously creamy orange blossom cheesecake or by shaving fresh orange zest over cinnamon orange pudding.

When choosing oranges from your preferred purveyors or at your local farmer’s market, look for options that are heavy for their size. Another tip: oranges maintained at room temperature will typically juice better than those that are refrigerated. They’re not just for breakfast any more!

photo courtesy of seriouseats.com

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