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Thursday, December 8, 2011

My favorite citrus fruit

The wonderful thing about this time of year is that California-grown citrus is in season and is being harvested daily!

I have so many friends who are growers and I have learned that freshly harvested fruit can taste completely different (and better) from fruit that has been in storage. From November through March I love to try different "new crop" citrus.

Last year I wrote about some wonderful things happening in the orange and mandarin world, and as each week or two goes by, different varieties become available in your local supermarket, and especially at the farmers market. Click here for a link to the mandarins and their seasons.

Well, the same applies to grapefruit. Of course there are the usual white or pink grapefruit varieties. Unfortunately, grapefruit has gotten some bad press in the last few years. Although this doesn’t apply to every person or prescription, there has been a lot of press highlighting the negative interactions grapefruit has with certain cholesterol-lowering medicines. (You can find more information about this here.)

But for most people, eating grapefruit is just fine. It is refreshing, and of course, almost everyone has heard of the “grapefruit diet,” so if you are trying to lose weight or get in shape, there’s a good chance that you might be eyeing those grapefruits during your shopping trip.

Earlier this week I took a road trip with two colleagues and we ended our day in a grove of Oroblancos. Oroblanco (translation from Spanish: “white gold”) is an amazingly delicious low-acid white grapefruit.

Oroblanco grapefruit

You can see that the outside rind is a pale green – which might lead you to believe that it is not sweet and ready to eat. But I can tell you, the fruit’s flavor was amazing. Juicy. Low acid. Mouth watering. Even though the outside rind is green. Color is not an indicator of ripeness and sweetness. Actually I was reminded yesterday that there are citrus standards for picking fruit, which are regulated by the California Department of Agriculture. Our grower told me that they have to measure the sugar (called brix) before they can even harvest.

As we stood in the citrus grove at dusk, enjoying Oroblancos, I was reminded of my mom. As I told our grower friends, many years ago my mother proclaimed that Oroblanco is her favorite fruit and each year she can’t wait for the season to begin.

So, we grabbed a few empty mesh bags from our grower's truck and we started harvesting Oroblancos. We put two large bags of them in the trunk of my car. I knew my mom would enjoy them back at the office.

I couldn’t help myself – and decided to harvest a few other samples… I picked some Moro Blood Oranges (Even though they are yellowish orange on the outside, you can see that the inside has the trademark dark red color.), some seedless and variegated lemons and a giant Buddha’s Hand Citron.

Moro Blood Orange
Variegated Lemons on the tree
Buddha's Hand (Fingered Citron) on tree

As the sun was starting to set, we couldn’t help but stop and enjoy the beautiful view. I recently got a new camera and am enjoying taking photos for our picture library. Here is a view of the orchard at nearly 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It was 50 degrees and you could tell winter was just around the corner.


Well, this city girl sure enjoyed her trek into the country this week. And the best part is that I have plenty of Oroblanco grapefruits to enjoy now that I am back home.

So, when you see Oroblancos in your supermarket produce department or at the farmers market – and you are wondering if that green-tinged skin means they are ripe – take a chance and buy one. You won’t be disappointed.

And – for an easy recipe, try one of my favorites: Oroblanco Sorbet (from my Purple Kiwi Cookbook).


Enjoy!
Karen

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