• Citruspalooza in Southern California

    by Dorothy Reinhold on January 12, 2012


    Print This Post Print This Post Citruspalooza in Southern California
    Lemon tree

    Backyard lemon tree

    Winter is an extravaganza of citrus in Southern California. It is almost embarrassing how many varieties we have at our fingertips, whether it is on a tree in our backyard, the farmers market, or the grocery store.

    Meyer lemon tree

    Meyer lemon tree

    Just in my own modest backyard, I have a 1-year-old still-spindly dwarf Meyer lemon, a 10-year-old ignored kumquat, a probably 40-year-old lemon, and an equally mature naval orange.

    Still, we buy 5-pound crates of Cuties and Pixies (tangerines) when they hit the store, and my family can whip through 3-5 pounds in a day. A standard after-school snack is 5 or 6 tangerines per kid.

    So it was like Christmas the other day when a box of fantastic citrus arrived from the fine folks at Melissa’s Produce.   Oh happy day!

    Even if you are familiar with the usual oranges and tangerines from the market, it is worth exploring different varieties, some of which have the potential to become your new favorites.

    Let’s meet some new-t0-you kinds of delicious citrus goodness.

    Neapolitan MandarinNeapolitan Mandarins: Neapolitan Mandarins (also known as a Page) are a brand new hybrid variety, and they’re naturally super sweet and low acid – kind of a juicy bit of mandarin candy. We declared these the best mandarins we’ve ever had. Ever! They’re seedless, available in limited quantities, right this minute, so if you see them get some, or you’ll be waiting another whole year. These are an exclusive Melissa’s item, available in the produce department at the grocery store.

    Cara Cara OrangeCara Cara Oranges: This is also called a red naval orange, because it has a bright orange peel and pinkish flesh. Like the Neapolitan Mandarin, it’s low acid and very sweet. When we dug into these, they were also like an orange candy. Can we rename them? Oh, if all candy were only this good, and good for you! They’re super juicy, and great to eat out of hand. They got their name because they originated at the Hacienda de Cara Cara inValencia,Venezuela.

    Blood orangeBlood Oranges: These are just plain fun. Streaked with red inside, they yield a brilliant red juice if you squeeze them. That oughta wake up the wee ones in the morning! This crop had grapefruit undertones (a good thing!), and a pleasant but not over-the-top sweetness. They are gorgeous and unique in a fruit salad, and are de rigueur at trendy restaurants. They’re also seasonal, so get them now, because they’ll be gone in March.

    Blood oranges also differ in red saturation from orange to orange, so they will all appear slightly differently hued when you cut them open — just one  of the many charming things about them!

    Blood oranges

    The best way to eat any of these oranges is out of hand. The mandarins are easy-peelers, and the oranges can be peeled and segmented, or the skin left on and the fruit cut into orange “smiles” for a packed lunch.

    Or treat yourself to a glass of interesting and wonderful juice!

    orange juices

    From left, Neapolitan Mandarin, Blood Orange, Cara Cara Orange and backyard orange.

    Best orange joke
    (or worst, depending on your perspective)

    Boy, 9: Knock knock.
    Mom: Who’s there?
    Boy: Banana!
    Mom: (quizzical look) Banana who?
    Boy: Knock knock.
    Mom: Who’s there?
    Boy: Banana!
    Mom: (again with the quizzical look, and more impatiently) Banana WHO?
    Boy, 9: Knock knock.
    Mom: Who’s there?
    Boy: Orange!
    Mom: (annoyed look) ORANGE WHO?
    Boy: Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

    Booya! You can thank my man cub for that. No charge.

     

    Disclosure: Melissa’s Produce provided samples of the citrus mentioned in this article. My opinions, as always, are my own. 

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