Winter is peak season for citrus, and we’ve already been getting in lots of wonderful oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and clementines. But we’ve also brought in some less-familiar citrus fruits, things you might have seen in big-city markets or in our travels in other countries, but not much in East Texas. Here’s a guide to some of our new arrivals:
Oro Blanco: This looks like a big grapefruit or a small pomelo. It’s actually a cross between the two, and tastes sweeter than either one. It has a thick, puffy rind, and a greenish-yellow skin like a pomelo, and pale sections like a grapefruit. It’s sweet, with an almost honey-like flavor, and little tartness or bitterness. You can cut it and serve on the half-shell like a grapefruit, but because the sections tend to be small, you may prefer to peel it and eat sections like an orange. It also makes wonderful juice.
Cocktail Grapefruit: The name is misleading; this is a cross between a type of mandarin and a pomelo. However, this fruit is best eaten like a grapefruit, cut in half and eaten with a spoon. The flavor is sweeter and less acidic than a grapefruit or pomelo. It has a thin skin and large seeds that make it also an excellent choice for juicing.
Kaffir limes: You may know kaffir limes because of their leaves; kaffir lime leaves are frequently used to season dishes in Asian cuisines, especially Thai. But the fruit itself is also delicious. They look like limes with a skin issue – their dark green rind is very rough and bumpy. The flavor is more sour and tangy than a regular lime, and they add a lot of flavor in cooking but aren’t necessarily recommended for drinking as a straight-up juice. Use them in soups or stews, especially Thai or Indonesian recipes.
Seedless lemons: Look, no seeds! These are tart, bright, fragrant and juicy like any good lemon, but they are a special hybrid that does not produce seeds. So, they’re super-easy to juice. They’re a great lemon to use to garnish drinks, soups, fish, chicken or other dishes; you can serve them as wedges, and guests won’t have to pick out any seeds after squeezing them onto the dish.
Meyer lemons: Sweeter, milder and less acidic than other lemon varieties, Meyer lemons are the new darlings of chefs and foodies. They are thought to be a hybrid of a regular lemon and mandarin orange. Their skin is so thin and mild you can actually eat it; you can slice whole lemons and add them to vegetable or fish dishes. The juice of Meyer lemons can be substituted in any recipe calling for lemon juice. The zest is particularly good, as it has an intense lemon flavor and doesn’t have the bitterness you sometimes find with ordinary lemon zest.