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Brighten up your winter menus with citrus

15 Recipes
A plate of strawberry-mandarinquat shortcake made using Sqirl baker Elise Fields' recipe.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

15 recipes to perk up your taste buds

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From December through April, sometimes May, the vivid oranges, yellows, greens and reds of California-grown citrus flood local farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores. They add welcome brightness at a time of year when sunlight starts waning at 4 p.m. The acid in citrus also brightens flavors when we add it to what we are cooking.

Accustomed as we may be to using lemon and lime to balance the sweet and the salty, oranges and mandarins accomplish similar goals without the tart, powerful punch that lemons and limes often pack. Mandarins are particularly popular of late and lend subtle flavor nuances all their own. There are many varieties to choose from, so you may want to bone up on them before heading to the market.

In the article “Mandarin Dreams,” David Karp recounts how California’s mandarin production has increased more than tenfold since the late 1990s. “Know your Mandarins” is a handy mandarin primer. Former Food editor Russ Parsons adds to California’s mandarin story and clears up the what’s-the-difference-between-a-tangerine-and-a-clementine question in “Mad for Mandarins.” (Spoiler alert: Tangerines and clementines are both types of mandarins, very similar except that clementines tend to be sweeter and easier to peel.)

Now that you are itching to cook with locally grown citrus, here are 15 recipes to revitalize your winter repertoire. Let us know which ones you try. And remember, while all citrus varieties are different from one another, for culinary purposes, they are quite interchangeable. Feel free to substitute what you have.

Tangerine granita

Time10 minutes
YieldsServes four to six

Tangerine and thyme chocolate chip cookies

Time45 minutes
YieldsMakes about 3 dozen cookies

Tangerine ratafia

Time1 hour
YieldsServes 18

Olive oil cake with creme fraiche and candied tangerines

Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 12

Nage's clementine salad

Time30 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Citrus Marmalade

Time2 hours 30 minutes, plus cooling
YieldsMakes 6 (half-pint) jars

Fresh Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsMakes one 9-inch loaf cake

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Spiced Citrus Mojo

Time1 hour 5 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Citrus-infused sake

Time10 minutes
YieldsServes 12

Mandarin parfait with candied ginger

Time40 minutes
YieldsServes 6

Mandarins with rosemary honey

Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 6