Winter days somehow seem happier when you start peeling a citrus fruit and spray the room with a little taste of the tropics. Your local Sprouts store may carry some or all of the following fruits, depending on what crops are available.
You wouldn’t really know what awaits inside these smaller, relatively thin-skinned reddish-orange fruits. But the “meat” is usually a vivid blood-red color that has overtones of raspberry and strawberry. Blood oranges are less acidic than most other varieties.
Factoid: One medium blood orange contains about 80 calories, 7g. of dietary fiber … and 1g. of protein!
Cara Cara Oranges:
These oranges—a special varietal of navels—are very low in acid, so their sweet, slightly complex berry-like flavor really comes through. They are typically bright and glossy, with a slight rosy hue in the flesh.
Factoid: Like other navel oranges, cara caras typically don’t propagate themselves spontaneously; they are grown using cuttings that are grafted onto other orange trees.
Navels are great for eating, juicing and cutting into salads, in part because of their tart/mellow flavor, but also because they are seedless. They can be tough to peel, especially if they are cold, so consider using a paring knife instead of your fingers.
Factoid: Two to four medium navel oranges yield one cup of juice. But the juice is very sweet and hence tends to ferment quickly, so be sure to consume it within a few hours of squeezing.
You might see some Valencias show up in January, but they are generally a late-winter crop. Golden orange in color, they are great in juice blends and in glazes. They do contain seeds, however.
Factoid: Although many people don’t like to look at the inner white skin of oranges (the “albedo”), it is actually very nutritious because it contains bioflavonoids that your body needs.
These varietals originated in Japan, but are now widely available in the U.S. They are small, juicy, seedless, loose-peeled (as opposed to clementines, which are tight-peeled), and they have a very high sugar content (Brix).
Factoid: The higher the Brix, the more likely the fruit is to decay. So be sure to store your satsumas in the refrigerator.
One of the great marketing success stories of the last decade, clementines are perfect little packages—sweet, not so juicy as to be messy, seedless and a cinch to peel. Clementines are actually part of the mandarin family, not the tangerine family.
Factoid: As the winter progresses, the clementine crop gets larger and larger. The season’s first clems may be not much bigger than golf balls, but by February you’ll be seeing some as large as baseballs.
These curious medium-sized fruits are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. You can always recognize them because of their distinctive shape, which has a little “nose” at the top. Minneolas don’t have much flesh but are very juicy.
Factoid: Minneola Tangelos are sometimes marketed as “Honeybells.”
Many of the smaller mandarins and oranges are informally referred to as tangerines, but true tangerines (like the Fairchild and Dancy) are different. The flavor is tart-sweet, the texture is pebbly, and they do contain seeds. Tangerines add a brighter note to fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Factoid: Real tangerines are usually sold with the stem and leaf attached.