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Citrus breakthroughs.

In your market or for your garden, here are new varieties to try

LEMONS WITH PINK FLESH, ORANGES WITH RUBY red flesh and a mouth-tingling flavor that hints of raspberries, and tangelolos that look like miniature grapefruits: these are some of the new (and not so new, but lesser-known) citrus--trees and fruits--now coming from growers in the citrus belts of California, Arizona, and Texas. Some, such as 'Melo-gold' and 'Oroblanco' grapefruit-pummelo hybrids and 'Wekiwa' tangelolo, are new types of citrus. Others, such as 'Encore' mandarin, 'Rio Red' grapefruit, and 'Variegated Pink' lemon, are new varieties of more familiar citrus. Here and on the next three pages, we describe these citrus surprises and tell how to grow them and how to use them in sweet and savory dishes.

The chart on page 82 lists 13 kinds. All were selected for their unique characteristics, suitability for home gardens, and the distinctive flavor of their fruits. Because some of them are very new, plants may be difficult to find at your nursery. On page 83, we list a retail mail-order source and five wholesale suppliers from which your nursery can order for you.

If you don't want to plant a tree but would like to prepare the recipes starting on page 83, you can buy many of the citrus discussed here in specialty markets and grocery stores that offer unusual produce. They're usually available between late fall and early spring. If you don't find them, you can substitute standard market varieties. But remember, every time you make a substitution, flavor, color, or tartness may be slightly different based on the substituted variety's characteristics.

Choose a variety suitable to your region

If you live in a mild area of inland Southern or central California, the lower deserts of California or Arizona, or the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, you can grow most of the citrus mentioned in the chart below. Along the coast and in the San Francisco Bay Area, citrus may not get enough heat to ripen. Periodic freezes in northern and inland areas can damage trees. TABULAR DATA OMITTED

While most blood oranges are marginal in coastal Northern California, 'Moro' colors well and produces a good tart-sweet flavor there (its juice is great mixed with sweet orange juice).

And grapefruit-pummelo hybrids are adapted to cool coastal temperatures; they'll sweeten up much better than grapefruit. Unlike other pink grapefruit, 'Rio Red' colors well on the coast, although it's fairly tart.

Gardeners in Northern California's inland valleys can grow a variety of citrus, but in these areas be sure to protect trees from freezes.

Planting and care

To give your tree the best growing conditions, take advantage of microclimates in the garden. In cool, coastal areas, plant trees where they get reflected heat from paving, the south side of the house, or a masonry wall. Protect trees from wind. In colder climates, avoid planting citrus in low areas where cold air drains.

Provide good drainage. Water trees regularly; they don't tolerate drought. Fertilize with a complete acid food that also contains iron, manganese, and zinc.

Prune only to shape trees. In the desert, let the branches grow to the ground to protect the trunk from sunburn.

Mandarins tend to bear a heavy crop one year and a light one the next. During a heavy year, pick off a third to a half of the fruits when they're marble-size so trees will produce more the next.

When to harvest citrus

Warm temperatures speed ripening. The same variety of citrus will ripen two to three months earlier in the desert than in coastal areas and about a month earlier than in southern inland areas (this range is indicated in the chart).

When you grow citrus at home, you can pick fruits at peak flavor. Near the estimated first-harvest date, pluck off a fruit and taste it. If it's not to your liking, wait to pick. It's best to store fruits on the tree unless a hard freeze is predicted. Then you should pick fruit and store in a cold area.

Different kinds of citrus hold on the tree for different lengths of time. But climate plays a big role. Fruit holds on the tree longest on the coast and shortest in the desert (high temperatures eventually deteriorate fruit).

'Melogold' and 'Oroblanco' eventually drop fruit. Grapefruits hang on for months near the coast and slowly grow sweeter. Lemons also hang on a long time.

Pick mandarins at peak flavor; don't leave them on the tree until their skins get puffy or most kinds will lose flavor. Oranges can hang on the tree for several months, although some may drop off. Harvest before the flesh gets dry. Blood oranges don't hold on as long. Harvest tangelolo when fully sweetened.

Where to buy trees by mail

Pacific Tree Farms, 4301 Lynwood Dr., Chula Vista, Calif. 91910; (619) 422-2400. Sells all citrus listed, except 'Spring' navel orange. Due to quarantines for tristeza virus, trees can be shipped only to seven Southern California counties. Catalog $2.

Wholesale sources

These California nurseries outside quarantine areas sell wholesale (don't call directly).

B & Z Nursery, Porterville. Sells grapefruit hybrids, 'Rio Red', 'Lane Late', and blood oranges.

Four Winds Growers, Fremont. Sells 'Oroblanco', 'Rio Red', and blood oranges.

Menlo Growers, Gilroy. Sells 'Oroblanco', 'Encore', blood oranges, and 'Variegated Pink' lemon in Northern California only.

Willits & Newcomb, Arvin. Sells grapefruit-pummelo hybrids, 'Rio Red', 'Pixie', 'Lane Late', 'Spring', and blood oranges.

Young's Nursery, Thermal. Sells 'Oroblanco', 'Rio Red', 'Encore', 'Lane Late', 'Moro', and 'Tarocco'. Also retail.

CITRUS SURPRISES: LEMON TART TO WINE SPLASHES

Tart Lemon Tart

Butter pastry (recipe follows)

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Powdered sugar

6 very thin lemon slices, cut in half crosswise and seeds discarded

Press pastry evenly over bottom and sides of a 10 1/2- to 11-inch tart pan with removable rim. Bake in 325|degrees~ oven until pale gold, about 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat eggs with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until mixture is thick and lighter in color. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, flour, and baking powder; beat until smooth.

Pour mixture into baked crust. Bake in a 325|degrees~ oven until filling no longer jiggles when gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. If making ahead, cover when cool and hold up to 1 day.

Remove pan rim and lightly sift powdered sugar onto tart. Garnish with lemon slices. Cut tart into wedges; wipe knife blade clean after each cut. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 242 cal. (35 percent from fat); 4.1 g protein; 9.5 g fat (5.3 g sat.); 36 g carbo.; 128 mg sodium; 92 mg chol.

Butter pastry. In a food processor or bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel. Add 1/2 cup butter or margarine, cut into small pieces; whirl or rub with your fingers until fine crumbs form. Add 1 large egg; whirl or stir with a fork until dough holds together. Pat into a smooth ball.

Black Bean Chili with Oranges

2 large (about 1 lb. total) onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon salad oil

2 quarts regular-strength chicken broth

1 pound (about 2 1/3 cups) dried black beans, sorted for debris and rinsed

1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

3/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies

6 cardamom pods, hulls removed (1/4 teaspoon seed)

About 2 1/2 pounds (4 to 6) oranges, mandarins, tangelolos, or tangelos

Sour cream

Fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs

Salt

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine onions, garlic, and oil. Stir often over high heat until onions are tinged with brown, about 8 minutes. Add broth, beans, coriander seed, allspice, oregano, chilies, and cardamom. Bring to a boil on high heat; cover and simmer until beans are tender to bite, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, finely shred enough peel from citrus to make 2 teaspoons. Ream juice from enough fruit to make 1/2 cup. Cut peel and white membrane from remaining fruit. Thinly slice fruit crosswise; pick out and discard the seeds.

Uncover beans and boil over high heat until most of the liquid evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes; reduce heat and stir occasionally as mixture thickens. Stir in 1 teaspoon peel and the 1/2 cup juice. Ladle beans into bowls; top equally with fruit slices. Add sour cream, cilantro sprigs, and salt to taste. Garnish with remaining peel. Makes 6 or 7 servings.

Per serving: 356 cal. (13 percent from fat); 18 g protein; 5.1 g fat (1 g sat.); 62 g carbo.; 67 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Pasta and Grapefruit Salad

8 ounces dried tiny bow tie (tripolini) or other small pasta

1 package (1 lb.) frozen petite peas, thawed

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

3 large (about 3 1/2 lb. total) grapefruit

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced fresh hot chili

Fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla) or salt

8 or 10 large butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisped

1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked ham

Fresh mint sprigs

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil on high heat. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, just until barely tender to bite, about 5 minutes. Drain; immerse pasta in cold water. Drain pasta when cool.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, peas, celery, onions, and chopped mint.

Cut peel and white membrane from grapefruit. Over another bowl, to catch juice, cut between membrane to remove fruit segments; add segments to pasta mixture. Squeeze membrane over juice bowl. Measure collected juice; you'll need about 1/2 cup. Save extra for other uses. Add lemon peel and juice to the 1/2 cup grapefruit juice. Add juice mixture, chili, and fish sauce to taste to pasta mixture; mix gently.

Arrange lettuce leaves on 4 or 5 dinner plates. Spoon pasta mixture equally onto lettuce. Roll ham slices and set on plates. Garnish with mint sprigs. Makes 8 cups, 4 or 5 servings.

Per serving: 371 cal. (13 percent from fat); 22 g protein; 5.4 g fat (1.6 g sat.); 60 g carbo.; 831 mg sodium; 27 mg chol.

Citrus Wine Splashes

About 1/3 cup chilled Asti Spumante or brut or extra-dry champagne

About 1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangelolo, or tangelo juice

Pour wine into a wineglass; add juice. Serves 1.

Per serving: 85 cal. (1 percent from fat); 0.5 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 8.1 g carbo.; 4.7 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Candied Citrus Peel Marmalade

Serve candied peel over ice cream, or citrus segments, or on toast with cream cheese.

3 pounds grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, tangelolos, tangelos, or lemons

2 cups orange juice (only if using lemons)

1/2 cup sugar

With a vegetable peeler, cut colored part only from the fruit. Cut peel into very thin slivers.

Ream fruit to extract juice (if using lemons, ream 2 and use with the 2 cups orange juice; reserve remaining lemons for another use).

In a 2- to 2 1/2-quart pan, cover peel with water; bring to a boil. Drain; repeat step and drain again.

Add juice and sugar to peel. Boil, uncovered, on high heat until most of the liquid evaporates and peel looks translucent, 25 to 35 minutes; as mixture thickens, watch closely, stir often, and reduce heat to prevent scorching. Serve, or cover and chill up to 2 months. Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Per tablespoon: 38 cal. (2.4 percent from fat); 0.3 g protein; 0.1 g fat (0 g sat.); 9.3 g carbo.; 0.5 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes; new citrus fruit varieties
Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar; Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:2022
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