By Carolyn Twesten, Weaver Street Market Produce Merchandiser
We’re already a few weeks into January, and I hope that your New Year’s healthy eating resolution hasn’t slipped by the wayside. If you’ve hit a rough patch here and there, don’t panic—just get back on the horse and try again. Luckily January is a great month for one of the world’s finest health foods: citrus!
Citrus is one of the many health foods that blasts apart the misrepresentation of health foods as bland and tasteless. In fact, citrus fruits can be just the thing to add a little zip to your meals while keeping them healthful.
One of my favorite things about citrus, and produce in general, is the progression of varieties throughout the season. Here are a few of my January citrus favorites (new and old) to look for:
This is a new-to-me variety this year, from Deer Creek Heights Ranch, a family-owned specialty organic citrus orchard in Porterville, CA. We will get several varieties of citrus from them throughout the winter months, and this is the first of the season. This grapefruit is one of the sweetest I have ever tasted. With a yellow-gold exterior and interior, the flesh is tender, juicy, and low acid. The MeloGold is actually a cross between a pummelo and a white grapefruit.
Cara Cara navels, also known as red navels, have long been one of my favorites for their complex flavor. Red-fleshed and slightly less sweet, they have flavors reminiscent of strawberries and cranberries. These navels were a natural mutation discovered on a Washington navel orange tree.
Foodies love the Meyer lemon for their sweet, floral flavor and aroma. That’s right, a sweet lemon! Meyer lemons are a cross between lemons and tangerines, resulting in a lower acid fruit. They are easily told apart from “regular” lemons by their smooth, thin skin. I love using Meyer lemon juice and zest in dressings, such as the dressing used in this recipe from Fine Cooking, Green Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette.
Minneola tangelos are also known as Honeybells for their cute bell-like shape. They are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit, and their flavor can run the gamut between sweet and sweet-tart, with a tangerine essence. The shining feature of the Minneola, though is their juiciness! Eat this one with a bib y’all!
Blood oranges are well-known for their beautiful, deep-red flesh. The red color is produced by anthocyanins, the same antioxidant found in dark-colored berries like blueberries and blackberries. Blood oranges are not just healthy for you though, they are also delicious to eat, with hints of pomegranate and raspberry. Try them on their own or atop an arugula salad, or in a fancier recipe like these Buckwheat Pancakes with Blood Oranges and Ricotta.