When the weather outside is frightful, it can be tempting to curl up on the couch and indulge in so-called “comfort” foods—many of which are a far cry from a healthy choice. But during the winter months, when our immune systems may be vulnerable and germs and illness abound, it’s especially important to incorporate plenty of fresh fruit into your diet.
In particular, citrus fruits—high in fiber and packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, and other health-sustaining nutrients—are a great way to amp up your immune system and treat your taste buds to some natural sweetness. Citrus fruits are the most abundant fruits we see in winter, most regional crops hail from Florida, Texas, and California.
According to my colleague Kyle, a team member from The FruitGuys’ Denver hub: “There are all kinds of amazing citrus available in the winter months, but to the uninitiated, it might seem like a boring time of year with not much more than lots of oranges.”
Not so! We’re here to tell you that there’s more to winter than just oranges—and way more to oranges than meets the eye. As you enjoy the abundance of tasty citrus fruits featured throughout the season, think of your weekly box from The FruitGuys as a delicious ray of sunshine full of bright bites to lighten up your winter days.
The FruitGuys Winter Weekly Box Offerings
While fruit mixes will vary from region to region, we’ve done our best to capture the big picture.
The arrival of cooler temperatures brings a brighter, more uniform color to navel oranges, a perennial favorite thanks to their extreme sweetness and snackability. You’ll also see lots of small citrus fruits over the winter months, including satsuma mandarins, which are seedless and, thanks to their “zipper” skin, super easy to peel and eat. Blood oranges are prominently featured in our weekly mixes through March.
We have tasty and versatile mandarinquats, as well as kumquats, a delicious blend of sweet and tart that can be eaten whole, skins and all. California mixes will feature Page mandarins from San Joaquin County’s Lagier Ranches, a farm we’ve worked with since 2009, and a recipient of a FruitGuys Community Fund grant.
We start seeing Pixie tangerines in late February, supplied by our pals at Friend’s Ranch. A treat worth supporting, these beloved medium-size tangerines are naturally seedless, always delicious, and they’re included in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste—a living catalog of culturally significant foods that are facing extinction.
Keep your eyes peeled for an abundance of tasty grapefruit varieties over the winter months, including pomelos and their sister fruit, the oro blanco (“white gold”) grapefruit. This hybrid between a white grapefruit and a pomelo was developed at the University of California-Riverside in the late 1950s. Delicious and low in acid, this variety has none of the usual grapefruit bitter-tartness—so even if you’re not typically a fan of grapefruit, the oro blanco is well worth a try. In addition, you’ll see the classic, highly flavorful Ruby Red grapefruit, and on the lighter end of the color spectrum, Marsh grapefruits. All grapefruit is high in vitamin C and fiber, and pink and red grapefruits contain the beneficial antioxidant lycopene.
Be aware that grapefruit, pomelo, and tangelo can interact with some drugs, including those for blood pressure, anxiety, cholesterol, and allergies, as well as others. If you’re on medication, check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before consuming these fruits.
Apples All Over
Most of The FruitGuys’ facilities have local apples in abundance throughout the winter. We also have fantastic, unique varieties from Washington State, including Jazz, Kiku, Kanzi, Koru, Opal, Smitten, SweeTango, and Envy. And thanks to our midwest buyer Sam, we have Topaz apples from Michigan—pale yellow, covered in some red and crimson blushing, and boasting a distinctly crisp texture and full-bodied flavor—which will be distributed to all our regions in mid-January. In the words of Rebecca, The FruitGuys’ director of quality and supply chain, this particular apple is “killer”—so keep an eye out for it.
A Plethora of Pears
Pears offer a variety of subtle, mouthwatering flavor nuances and stay fresh and delicious for months. Whether Comice, D’Anjou, Forelle, French Butter, Bartlett, Packham, Seckel, and sweet, fragrant Taylor’s Gold, there is truly a pear for everyone to savor and enjoy.
Unique Fruits for All!
Other healthy treats you can look forward to include fabulous guava and rambutans. Asian pears have mostly finished for the season, though we’re still sourcing some Shinseki and Hosui pears out of Washington and Oregon. Early strawberries grown in Oxnard, CA have already started, harkening the season to come.
For the latest on what’s coming your way from The FruitGuys, check out The Weekly Mix, which highlights our current offerings by region.
Elisabeth Flynn is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor, and has spent the last 15 years working in the nonprofit/social innovation sector.