Could it be divine intervention that brings us citrus in the middle of winter? During a season of sweets, cheese platters and too much chip dip, anything with citrus is a jolt of sunshine. But thanks to low-carb diets and ultra-busy schedules, we’re not eating as much citrus as we used to. Consumption of oranges dropped almost 25 percent between 1970 and 2002, while grapefruit consumption dropped almost 50 percent.
To counter that trend, some citrus farmers have begun to grow and market unusual varietals and new hybrids. At Alegre Farms in southern California, Scott and Leanne Fortiner grow certified-organic Borrego pink grapefruits, a root-stock hybrid that’s sweet and sour all at once. The Fortiners also plant exotic, organic mandarins (Kinnow, Daisy and others).
At La Vigne, toward the Pacific coast, Robert and Heleme Beck specialize in boutique citrus such as organic Meyer lemons, Satsuma tangerines, kaffir limes, blood oranges, kumquats and five kinds of mandarins.
Here we’ve harnessed all the tart zest and fruity juice of the citrus family, into a punch, sorbet, brulée and pie—all welcome at the table.
By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, food writers in Colebrook, Conn.