Seasonal citrus, as an accent to winter spice cake

{Sweet, tart, juicy and altogether wonderful; a bit of sunshine and warmth in a cold time}

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Winter citrus comes in a rainbow of colors with all gradations of sweet and tart flavors. See what your local supermarket or farmers’ market is featuring and choose fruits that are heavy for their size with their skins unblemished and tight against the fruit inside. It’s not a bad idea to nick your fingernail gently into the skin of the fruit for a preview of its flavor. Refreshing and juicy with a nice balance of sweetness and tartness are the traits that are worth looking for in your search for the perfect citrus. If you are shopping at a farmers’ market, don’t hesitate to ask the grower or vendor to allow you to sample. (Even good supermarkets nowadays have produce managers who are usually happy to cut into the fruit to give you a sample before you buy. Never be afraid to ask for recommendations about which fruits are at their peak as things change quickly.)

Here is an admittedly partial list of some kinds and names to look for when sourcing the best seasonal citrus:

Pummelo (pomelo): a grapefruit on steroids, these can be white or pink fleshed

Oro Blanco–non acidic white grapefruit, a cross between pummelo and grapefruit

Cocktail grapefruit: mellow and smaller than grapefruit, these often have deep yellow skin with some greenish patches; the fruit, a cross between pummelo and mandarins has lots of seeds but is wonderfully sweet and well worth the effort it takes to remove the seeds

Pink grapefruit–ruby red, often from Texas, although many are grown in California and Florida

Tangerines–a subclass of mandarins, the list is long here from honey variety (difficult to peel but delicious) and tiny Kishu, to dense fleshed but very sweet Murcotts, Page (deep orange skin), Pixie (with small bumps on a light orange skin), Fairchild (moderately sweet with chew, dense texture) and many others

Satsuma tangerines–these are juicy, seedless, and alone among seasonal citrus, tend to have loose, almost baggy dimpled skin, making for easy peeling

Clementines–this fruit has a balance of sweet and acid flavors and is often grouped together with Mandarins

Blood oranges–deep red fruits, sometimes, but not always, with blush of red on their skins; juicy and fragrant with an almost raspberry fruitiness of flavor; Moro and Tarocco varieties are most often found

NOTE;  If your markets don’t carry anything beyond the basics, you can easily order an assortment from www.melissas.com who will efficiently and quickly ship you the best the season has to offer.

 

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