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Navel Gazing | Citrus Fruits

From heirloom navel oranges to limequats, we see the future in exotic new citrus fruits. Some are sort of funny looking, actually, but they're so good for you, so delicious and so versatile in the kitchen that you'll fall in love, whether you use them in a vibrant Thai salad, a spicy sauce for seared duck, or a wiggly jelly topped with meringue.

Exotic Citrus

Pomelo An oversize, mildly tart, grapefruit-like citrus with a yellow-green, superthick skin and pink flesh.

Oro Blanco A white-fleshed hybrid of pomelo and grapefruit, with a thick rind and a sweet taste.

Ugli Fruit A grapefruit-tangerine cross, with an easy-to-peel, nubby, yellow-orange rind and sweet flesh.

Heirloom Navel A juicy, intense orange with dense yet yielding flesh.

Minneola Tangelo A grapefruit-tangerine hybrid, with a loose red-orange skin and sweet-tart flesh.

Page Mandarin A Minneola-tangelo-and-clementine hybrid, with loose skin and red-orange flesh.

Mandarinquat A hybrid of mandarin orange and kumquat, with an edible rind and sour flesh. Eaten whole like a kumquat or used as a garnish.

Limequat A cross between a lime and a kumquat. Used for pickling, or to make a marmalade or preserve.

Sweet Lime Roundish with smooth skin, pale yellow flesh, low acidity and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Best juiced.

Kaffir Lime A seedy, sour lime with bumpy skin. The aromatic leaves and zest are indispensable in Thai cooking.

Key Lime A green fruit one-third the size of a regular lime, with a tart, floral flavor. Best juiced for baking.

Etrog A variety of citrus with a thick yellow-orange rind and seedy, dry flesh. The peel is candied or added to salads.

Bergamot Resembles a plump lemon. The rind is rich in the essential oil used to flavor Earl Grey tea.

Two mail-order purveyors of these fruits are Melissa's, 800-588-1281 or melissas.com, and Frieda's, 800-241-1771 or friedas.com.

—Christina Wang

Power of the Superfruits

Citrus fruits are known as a source of vitamin c, but they can also be good sources of other nutrients, such as vitamin a, folate and potassium. Plus, they're full of antioxidants, which help slow down the aging process and protect against heart disease, cancer, stroke and arthritis, according to Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietician with the American Dietetic Association. Deeper-colored fruits, like blood oranges, generally offer higher levels of antioxidants than their paler counterparts. Nutrient levels also vary by fruit. Lemons, oranges and the less common pomelos are highest in vitamin C, while grapefruits are the best source of vitamin A. Because vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron in enriched foods, Dorfman recommends pairing these nutrients during meals: Have your morning grapefruit with iron-enriched cereal.

—Ratha Tep

Published January 2005
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