Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter Citrus Adventures

Winter isn't my favorite season, but one of the things I do appreciate is the availability of citrus fruits that either I don't see at other times, or that are priced so high in the rare places that carry them, that I don't buy them. My list of readily available favorites includes Nagami kumquats, which I added to my repertoire fairly recently, Cara Cara oranges, Meyer lemons (which I used to grow and really miss), Moro blood oranges, Minneola tangelos, Satsuma mandarins and Algerian clementines. Although these varieties aren't new, they're still a treat and I enjoy dreaming up ways to use them. I zest and juice some while they're plentiful, then freeze them in small batches to await my next brain storm.

The taste of some varieties isn't the citrus experience most of us are used to. I was chatting about this by email with my friend Bonnie in San Francisco, and she said while she, "loves the Moro's flesh, my one reservation is that the taste is not consistent. I peel each wondering if it will have that taste I can best describe as dusty and not-at-all citrus-like. It's 'that borderline taste'. I have tried to find connections among the skin color, the flesh color and the varying taste, but am not, so far, successful."  I know what she's talking about, but it doesn't diminish my enjoyment of dramatic and beautiful Moro's. As for my latest taste test, I tried a Chandler pummelo the other day and didn't appreciate having to excavate through a deep, deep layer of pith to get to the small amount of fruit that wasn't tasty enough to be worth the effort. Maybe it was a bad example, but I'm going to look for the new 'Valentine' hybrid next time.

I wanted to learn more about advances in citrus, and after some rooting around, I found this link to a very helpful report from the University of California at Davis about the standard kinds of citrus vs. the new varieties to locate and try.
Buddah's Hand

Citrus: Tried and True or Something New? 

I'm looking forward to more adventures in citrus, so if you see anything exciting in your travels, please tell me about it. High on my wish list is the citron, "Buddah's Hand". It's so ugly it's beautiful and you can't eat it, but it's supposed to have a wonderful fragrance. I'd love to have one on the kitchen counter.

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