New season NZ citrus promises excellent quality

New season NZ citrus promises excellent quality

New Zealand-grown citrus fruit is now becoming available and promises to be one of the best quality and tastiest seasons we’ve had in years.

Citrus NZ Chairman, Wayne Hall says limes and Satsuma mandarins are now available, and will soon be followed by Navel oranges, lemons, grapefruit and tangelos. “This season will be ‘the complete opposite’ of 2023 when Cyclone Gabrielle badly affected crops in Gisborne where 70% of our citrus fruit is grown.

“The quality this year will be outstanding. We had a difficult season last year obviously, with the wet weather, but this year we’ve had a hot East Coast summer and Northland has had good growing conditions as well,” Hall explains.

“There’s a large volume of Satsuma mandarins lining up to be sold and they’re looking really good. The taste will be excellent this year because they’ve had such a good summer. So, from an eating experience, consumers are going to really enjoy mandarins and Navel oranges in the coming months.”

New Zealand-grown fruit always tastes fresh and vibrant given it’s typically picked, packed and delivered to stores within a week of leaving the tree, Hall says.

New Zealanders and chefs are being encouraged to “think outside the box” in terms of how to consume citrus. They can be eaten, whole, juiced, sliced into segments into salads, make into ice-blocks; add zest to favourite soups, baking or meals, and even cure seafood using lime and lemon juice.

5+ A Day Trustee and Principal Scientist and Team Leader at Plant and Food Research, Dr Carolyn Lister, says citrus is renowned for its high vitamin C content but they are in fact a unique whole food package that deliver a powerful range of nutrients and health benefits.

“One serve of citrus can provide up to 179% of your daily vitamin C needs and can support immunity and deliver a whole range of other health benefits,” she confirms. “The different citrus varieties have also been shown to potentially help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, may improve short-term brain function and help to lower the risk of depression and dementia. Citrus fruit has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help aid digestion, immunity, asthma, skin, and eye health.”

The sugars in citrus fruit are naturally occurring and all citrus is low in sodium.

Citrus fruits contain essential nutrients like vitamin C, folate and potassium as well as soluble fibre which feeds good gut bacteria and helps to lower cholesterol.

“Some citrus bioactives (like the flavonoid hesperidin) are not commonly found in other foods. Bioactives contribute to the bright colours, flavours, smells and antioxidant activity that are found in citrus and have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.”

The Ministry of Health recommends people eat five or more servings of vegetables and at least two servings of fruit every day. But 5+ A Day research shows only 23% of New Zealanders eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables and just 71% of us eat enough fruit, Dr Lister says.

“New season citrus is a perfect time to increase your fruit intake. One orange, two mandarins or half a grapefruit is considered to be one serve. So make the most of the wonderful fresh produce that’s now in store and reap all the health benefits that citrus can offer.”

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