Citrus and Rosemary; A Refreshing Combination

Fresh and clean….that’s what most of us crave this time of year. Thankfully, just as we are clearing the pine needles and the last of the holiday decorations, the western garden is capable of giving us a revitalizing gift; citrus.

There’s nothing I love more than piling a big platter of lemons or grapefruit in the middle of the table in January. The invigorating scent of their skin, especially homegrown fruit that hasn’t been waxed, provides a perfect aroma therapy on a winter’s day. The cheerful colors brighten the room and the ease of grabbing a tangy snack gives hope to the yearly promise to eat healthier.

perjoy grapefruit and lemon platters

I love to tuck a citrus tree, whenever possible, into my clients planting designs. The clean-lined evergreen foliage and the diversity of mature sizes make them very versatile in the garden. They can be year-round focal points or good privacy screens and they are worth including based on the scent of their flowers alone. But most people appreciate the fruit too, whether it’s the decorative value or it’s usefulness in the bar and the kitchen. While summer lemonade is a beloved classic, it always feels so amazing that many citrus varieties actually ripen in winter. It seems like such a miracle to have the fruit that most tastes like sunshine being offered just as we need it most.


Rosemary is another garden classic that adds extra value in the winter. The piney-herbal scent is  a perfect combination of summer and winter sensations. A well-placed rosemary will usually provide at least a few flowers year round, which are especially appreciated when there is so much less in bloom.


I have been loving the combination of rosemary and citrus in the kitchen this year. This past summer I experimented with an apple-lemon-rosemary jelly and I used it for the holidays to drizzle on top of goat cheese. It was extra good with added strips of lemon zest and fresh snips of rosemary. The same combination could be done right now by substituting a honey drizzle on the cheese instead.


By far, the easiest way to enjoy this sunny combination is also my favorite, because it’s so straight forward;

Grapefruit Rosemary Bites with Fresh Cracked Pepper

Recipe; You make it just like it sounds, while sprinkling a little sugar on each piece of grapefruit, if you like it a little sweeter.

– If you’re presenting these as an easy appetizer, adorn them with a few rosemary flowers for extra color.

– I like to cut the grapefruit into sections, with the peel still attached, then cut a section in half again. This makes nice bite-sized pieces and the attached peel makes them easier to handle. You just discard the peel after biting off the herb speckled fruit.

– The  rosemary + pepper combination works beautifully with oranges or tangerines too. Or you could use the same idea as a fruit salad by peeling the sections and using more than one variety of citrus.


So whether you look at them, inhale them, eat them,  or all of the above – be sure to enjoy nature’s re-freshing gift by including citrus and rosemary in your kitchen and in your garden.


A few garden tips for citrus;

– Smaller, less sweet fruit ripen better in cool summer locations. Limes or lemons are the easiest while grapefruit and citron will need more heat.

– Increase reflected heat and frost protection by growing your citrus against a sunny wall.

– Additional winter cold protection can come from fabric wraps or non-LED lights (i.e. twinkle lights).

– If your citrus does get some frost damage, don’t cut off the affected foliage until the weather warms, because it is still providing insulation and protection for the remaining stem.


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Categories: Things to Eat


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