This delectable mixture of grapefruit, oranges, and maraschino cherries (and only the smallest bit of sugar), has been a traditional Christmas dish for my family for generations. However, I discovered that it’s a great dish for my annual Chinese New Year party.
(No, I am not of Chinese descent, have never lived in China or any land that celebrates Lunar New Year, but what better way to beat the post-Christmas winter blues than to don your cheery red and gold, get together with friends and family, and set off some firecrackers?)
According to several sources, citrus fruit are especially auspicious because orange sounds like the Chinese word for “wealth.” Plus, the bright orange and gold colors of citrus fruits also symbolize gold. Therefore they are thought to bring in good luck and wealth.
The color red is especially lucky. So the maraschino cherries, which dye the citrus cup, add to the New Year auspiciousness. I’ve decided to give the citrus cup as gifts over the Spring Festival, to spread the wishes for prosperity.
Citrus cup is not really a fruit salad, but more of a citrus soup, since the juice is really the tastiest part of the whole dish. It’s deceptively simple to make, although a bit time-consuming and MESSY. If you don’t like getting your hands sticky and if you only have 20 minutes before your party, this dish is not for you. But I happen to believe that it’s completely worth it!
Are you ready to dig in? If you’d like to make this yummy, refreshing and lucky fruit soup, let’s get started!
**Before you do anything else, go wash your hands and rinse them very well**
This is a hands-on recipe, you will be in contact with the fruit often, whether to dig seeds out of the bowl or to simply slice up the oranges. The rinsing of the soap off of the hands advice comes from one unfortunate batch of citrus cup that tasted an awful lot like Irish Spring… But moving on.
Lucky Citrus Cup (aka “We Wish You a Scurvy-Free Christmas Cup)
1 5lb bag grapefruit
1 3lb bag of valencia or other juice oranges
1 3lb bag of navel oranges
1 10oz jar maraschino cherries
1/2-3/4c white sugar (to taste)
First, find a large, easy-to-clean, workspace and gather your materials.
Decide how much fruit you will need. I generally cut up 2 oranges for every standard-sized grapefruit. The navel oranges are usually sweeter than juice oranges, but are often very dry, so it’s good to mix the Valencia and navel oranges together.
Now, cut up your fruit.
I start with the grapefruit, cutting them in half, picking out all visible seeds, and then use the grapefruit knife to loosen each segment. Squeeze the segments and juice into the bowl you’ll be mixing the citrus cup in. I usually also run each half across the juicer, just to get every bit of juicy, pulpy goodness.
Peel the oranges, divide into quarters (2-3 segments in each quarter) and then make thin slices across the segments. Don’t worry about the membranes between segments. They help the oranges retain their shape and are actually good for you!
While working, scoop out as many seeds as you can. Those impossibly little pieces of seed won’t hurt anyone, but the big ones aren’t any fun to find on your spoon. Use a spoon, use a strainer, or just dig in with your hands to get the offending seeds.
Keep going until all the fruit is in the bowl.
Add the maraschino cherries with all the juice in the jar.
I usually quarter each cherry, because my mom taught me to be thrifty… Also, that way the lucky red color and wonderful almond flavor is spread more equally throughout the mixture.
Taste. Add sugar as needed, but not too much!
Taste again until you’re done!
Pour into decorative containers and serve with bowls and spoons.
Have you tried the recipe yet? When you do, please let me know what you think in the comments section.