Mariano’s Grocery has been feeding my fruit tooth year-round, but the produce department is bursting with delicious varieties now that spring is here and summer fast approaches. Here are some of my current citrus favorites with apples and rhubarb thrown in for good measure.
Minneola Tangelos: The Minneola tangelo is a cross between a grapefruit and a variety of tangerine with juicy flesh and a sweet/sour flavor. The orange-colored citrus has a characteristic nipple or bell-like shape.
Meyer Lemons: This citrus variety is native to China and is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or an orange. The Meyer lemon is generally sweeter, rounder, lower acidity and thinner skinned than common lemons. The California cuisine revolution in the 1990’s and Martha Stewart have further popularized this variety of lemon.
Key Limes: This lime variety is smaller, seedier, sweeter, has a higher acidity and a rind that is thinner than the usual Persian limes found in grocery stores. If you are making a Key Lime pie, this is the variety to purchase, but I prefer Key Limes whenever they are available. This citrus fruit is green when picked and turns yellow when ripe.
Blood Oranges: A natural mutation of the orange which has a crimson interior and raspberry notes in the orange citrus flesh with a tougher skin than most oranges. The exterior may or may not have a red tinge to the orange color. The orange itself is a hybrid between pomelos and tangerines.
Pomelos: Out of curiosity, I bought a pomelo, native to South and Southeast Asia. Larger than the common grapefruit, the flesh is sweet but the tough, inedible interior membranes drove me back to my preferred Ruby Red grapefruit variety.
Grapples: A man behind me in the check-out line at Mariano’s had a plastic bag of apples. I kept smelling grapes which puzzled me since there were none in sight. He patiently explained to me that the variety of fruit he had purchased crunches like a crisp apple, but the taste and aroma are that of grapes and are named “grapples.” I promptly bought some myself. As much as I liked them, Honey Crisp apples continue to be my favorite variety. Still, you might get a kick out of trying this amusing hybrid.
Honeycrisp Apples: Speaking of Honeycrisp apples which have recently exploded in popularity, the University of Minnesota developed this variety which boasts sweetness, firmness and tartness. The Honeycrisp is generally more expensive than other apples and has larger cells which burst in the mouth when we bite into them. If you are eating dairy, try a wedge of gouda cheese with this beauty. Yum!
Rhubarb: While technically a low carb, high fiber vegetable, most American cuisine treats rhubarb as a fruit for pies, compotes, jams and cobblers. Those not wanting to spike their blood sugar can dice rhubarb and cook it in lemon juice with a low glycemic sweetener like xylitol or stevia. I prefer xylitol which can be ordered on-line or purchased at the Vitamin Shoppe locally. Mariano’s and Treasure Island usually carry fresh rhubarb in their produce departments. I hope to plant some in my garden this summer with the hopes that the resident rabbit will nibble elsewhere.
Here’s to the bounty of warmer weather at your own favorite produce vendor!