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Citrus fruit from indoor trees

Bob Dluzen
Special to The Detroit News

One really enjoyable treat at my house this time of the year is fresh, homegrown citrus picked from my orange and lime trees.

I’m down to only three trees now having started with 14 trees 20 years ago. Back then, in addition to limes and oranges, I had lemons, grapefruit and mandarins.

Through the years I gave some of my trees away. A couple of others had died for one reason or another. The remaining three that I have now are the original trees that I first started out with.

This being Michigan, all of my trees are growing in pots, of course. They get moved in during the winter and back outside in the spring.

Limes turn yellow when left on the tree to ripen. Ripe limes are sweeter, juicier and have more lime flavor than green limes.

On occasion, during our rare winter warm-ups, I've been known to set them outside for a day and give them a refreshing rinse-down with the hose, pretty much the same thing we do with houseplants. A thorough rinsing will wash off many of the immature scale insects, mealy bugs and others that tend to multiply very quickly when the trees are indoors.

Limes have more uses than adding to beer and other drinks. Chefs use lime zest and juice to add an extra dimension to many recipes. Since my trees never get sprayed with insecticides, I have no qualms about using the zest and peel.

There are not enough oranges to juice so we just pick one once in a while and eat it fresh.

Both of my orange trees are Valencia, which are normally considered juicing oranges, but to my palate,  they're tastier than Navel oranges. Maybe it’s because I pick directly from the tree. But I felt that way back when I had Naval trees, too.

Citrus trees, in their natural habitat, typically live 50 years or more. Mine are approximately 25 years old so, that puts them somewhere around the halfway point of their lifespan. I have many more years of citrus fruit to look forward to.