01/08/2012 11:37 am ET Updated Jan 15, 2012

Citrus: Delicious Ways To Sneak In More Fruit This Year

The sunny hue of citrus fruits may not be the first thing you think of during these chilly winter months, but 'tis the season when this large family of fruit, including grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine and tangelo, among others, are at their best.

Prepared either sweet or savory, or eaten fresh out of the peel, citrus fruits share some degree of tartness. They're also a rich source of vitamin C -- making them an even more timely pick with healthy eating and anti-cold tactics underway -- as well as a compound called limonoids, which have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon, according to the USDA.

And while citrus fruits may all look the same, they aren't all created equal. Among oranges, for example, you've got three different types: sweet oranges, including the seedless navel, the juicy valencia and the red-fleshed blood orange; loose-skinned oranges, such as the sweet-tart mandarin; and bitter oranges like the seville and bergamot varieties, which are generally too sour to be eaten raw.

Among limes, you'll find two major varieties at the store, including the small, seedy Mexican or Key lime, and the larger seedless Persian or Bearss lime. Both are usually sold with green rinds, though they turn yellow when fully ripe.

Look for citrus fruits that are firm and heavy for their size. At home, they'll do well at room temperature for about a week, but for longer storage, keep them inside the refrigerator.

Here, four chefs share their favorite ways to incorporate the bright, bold flavor of this in-season gem.