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Orange You Glad There’s Citrus?
Surviving a Midwestern winter is a little like being on one of those sailing
ships of old. We all have cabin fever and need our vitamin C. But blimey,
when it comes to citrus, we have a lot more ways to avoid scurvy than
those limeys did in the Royal Navy.
Even limes have become more interesting. Suddenly key limes are
available (and cheap—20 for $1.69!) in many supermarkets, especially
Latin American ones. These smaller fruits are also called Mexican limes.
They have more flavor and juice than Persian limes (the regulation
gin-and-tonic kind). Of course, to even things out they also have a lot
more seeds, but don’t think “pie” and pass them by. Key limes work just
fine anyplace you’d use ordinary limes and add a bigger, fuller acidic
The Mutt and Jeff of eccentric citrus fruits are the pomelo and the
kumquat. The giant pomelo looks like a grapefruit on steroids—in fact, it
is the grapefruit’s ancestor. It immediately brings to mind the old
admonition not to eat anything bigger than your head. The thick spongy
peel hides a mild, sweet pulp that is a bit dryer than a grapefruit’s.
Pomelo (also spelled pummelo and sometimes also called Chinese
grapefruit or Shaddock) makes a delightful marmalade and a big one will
fill 6 half-pints with a tangy, pleasantly bitter spread. It’s usually easier to
peel and section than grapefruit and more fragrant, too. Definitely a citrus
Kumquats are the pomelo’s diminutive cousins and among the prettiest of
fruits. Like pomegranates, they are often relegated to the role of
decoration when they can actually play some tasty supporting parts. The
shiny bright orange skin is what’s sweet. The pulp inside is dry and bitter.