New season citrus provides essential health benefits


New Zealand’s favourite citrus fruit are now in season and Kiwi shoppers are encouraged to enjoy this important produce throughout the day for a great tasting, affordable vitamin boost.

Wayne Hall, Chair of Citrus New Zealand says the 2023 season is off to a great start with a good supply of all locally grown varieties expected in retail markets.

“While damage was sustained on citrus orchards this year following Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle, our growers have worked hard to ensure the citrus crop is available and tasting great.

“A big shout-out to the citrus growers in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti and Hawkes Bay who have faced these unprecedented challenges,” says Hall.

Limes and Satsuma mandarins are the first fruit of the season, with both available from the start of autumn. The easy-peeling Satsuma harvest starts in early April and makes up about 25 percent of New Zealand’s citrus production of about 31,000 tonnes. 

“A citrus industry character once said, ‘everybody loves an easy peeler’ and he couldn’t have been more correct. They’re always a great option for the lunchbox,” says Hall.

Through the winter months, from May onwards, lemons and Navel oranges will be available in stores. New Zealand grows a relatively unique type of lemon, the Meyer cultivar, which is common both here and in the United States, but rare elsewhere.  

“The Meyer is the deeper yellow-coloured, rounder lemon that you’ll find on the shelves. It looks like this because it is a natural cross of a lemon and a mandarin/pomelo hybrid. Amazing flavour and available in the middle of winter,” says Hall.

As spring begins, growers will be picking grapefruit, tangelos and Afourer mandarins.

5+ A Day Trustee and Principal Scientist and Team Leader at Plant and Food Research, Dr Carolyn Lister says the wide variety available means shoppers can keep changing up the citrus they use in recipes.

“New Zealand citrus fruit is packed with vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and to help the body fight off infections. With so many varieties to choose from, there’s always something new to incorporate into your diet,” she says.

“When it’s in season, locally grown citrus represents great value for shoppers right through the cooler months,” she says.

The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust has a large database of recipes using citrus fruit for the whanau to try:

This month, try their Mandarin, Carrot and Chickpea Salad, a delicious autumn dish packed with nutrients. Roast chickpeas and carrots drizzled with olive oil, cumin, honey, mandarin zest and juice until they’re golden. Then add to a salad of lettuce leaves, mandarin segments and soft cheese. Top with a dressing of mandarin juice and olive oil.

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