The Season of the Navel Orange, Grapefruit, and Mandarin
By Heidi Lewis
The bright sunshine of citrus has begun streaming in! Although ostensibly citrus is available year-round, a series of citrus characters will step in and out of the citrus odyssey. We like to give them heroic epithets as Homer gave his gods and goddesses in his epic poems.
The current heroes of the citrus saga are the Navels—Noble Navel the Sharer. Sweet, easy-peel oranges with a belly button—they fall into sections so well, they are easy to share. As Navel farmer Ron Matik of Pleasant Oak Ranch in Springville, CA, says: “I know the Navels are ripe when I have one off the tree and I want another one.” We are big fans of oranges that demand narrative repetition.
Gallant Grapefruit the Brave takes its inspiration from the winter sun, shining in a dazzling array of yellows, pinks, and reds. All grapefruit is high in vitamin C and fiber, and pink and red grapefruit contain the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. It has other properties that aid in joint health, and even the extract from its seeds is a powerful antiseptic.
Mandarin the Petite and Neat is the narrator’s muse, holding a place throughout the many months of the epic citrus saga. The mandarin species has many varieties, appearing first as Fall-Glo tangerines, then taking different names and forms, from deep winter ’til early spring. Come December we expect Santa will be putting Satsumas in our stockings. Pixies perk up February, then Honey tangerines and other varieties take us through spring.
Enjoy the epic poem that is the citrus season rising, “…like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance.” —Homer
Storage: Citrus fruits are picked ripe, so eat them within a couple of days, or refrigerate in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to a week or two.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!