It’s raining, its sunny, it’s freezing, it’s snowing, it’s citrus season, baby! Talk about my favourite season because it’s also agbalumo season, and though I’m far from home, away from the source of that joy, I can bask in the joy here – of juice oranges and ugli, sanguinello and kumquats, tangerines, tangelos, mandarins and more. Meyers, lime, lemons, and everything in between. Today, there are 3 kinds of citrus in my kitchen: Bergamot, Calamansi and Ugli fruit! Here it goes –
Botanical name – Citrus bergamia, also Citrus aurantium subsp. Bergamia – a cross between sour orange and lemon.
Ever wondered what fruit brought that distinctive flavor to Lady Grey and Earl Grey Tea? Look no further, I present – Bergamot oranges, Citrus bergamia – an intensely fragrant, perfumey sour citrus, popular for its essential oils. Rarely eaten out of hand because of its acidic nature, it is used in a myriad of ways. It reminds me of Nigerian oranges, green skinned with patches of yellow. Not many people know what Bergamot looks or tastes like so I’m doing my bit for the world :). And though you may not get to claim 2/2, you at least can tick one off.
Read more about Bergamot in my piece for bon appetit.
Botanical name – Citrus × microcarpa- a cross between kumquat and mandarin orange.
My friend, Princess has a calamansi (also known as calamondin) tree and brought be a dozen of the delicious fruit. She shared that the skin was sweet and the inside sour, and it reminded me of kumquats which I think of as inside out fruits :). And then later on, with my curiosity at an all time high, I went off to the interwebs and discovered – indee d, they are related, kumquats are a parent of this fruit!
3. Ugli fruit
Botanical name – Citrus reticulata x Citrus paradisi – a cross between mandarin orange and Pomelo.
Think mandarin, tangerine, tangelo but thick skinned, green-yellow with fruit more sour than sweet. Ugli fruit, also Jamaican tangelo, is in season from December to April. It was first discovered in the wild in Jamaica, where it may have naturally hybridized, and is now cultivated.
I first saw it at a store – Renee in Lekki, Lagos, and was in the same basket as lemons but I knew it wasn’t a lemon. I remember thinking I’d seen an ugli fruit in Port Harcourt many years ago, but dismissed it because I couldn’t find any resources that said we had it in Nigeria.
The name “ugli” is meant to be a dig at its looks because it’s pockmarked, dimpled, weirdly-shaped, thick skinned, a host of colours and it doesn’t have that smooth-skinned look some desire. It also goes by the name Uniq fruit.
Uglis peel just like a tangelo – no knife or peeler required. The fruit segments are mostly held together, like the tangelo and tangerine and clementine and mandarin. The globules within each segment are thick and juicy. The flavor is tart and sour and more lemon than grapefruit to me.
Have you tried them before? Do you have a favourite?