Red Navel Gazing

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By Chris Mittelstaedt

Citrus season is in full swing now, with all sorts of farm-fresh specialty fruit coming in. We’re seeing everything from Navel Oranges to Satsumas to Clementines to Ruby Red Grapefruits to Cara Caras. We’re also cycling in Murcotts, Minneolas, and a host of other citrus varieties as well. If you don’t recognize them, go to fruitguys.com/mix to view your crate’s contents by region (West, Southwest, Central, or East), and we’ll show you what’s inside. Now—about those Cara Caras:

I once asked my neighborhood grocery clerk if he had Cara Caras. He looked at me a bit skeptically and said no, then suggested that if I check the classifieds section of the paper, maybe I could find something I’d like to “drive-a drive-a.” So it is with Cara Cara Navel Oranges—not a lot of people know about this specialty citrus. Rumor has it that this pink-fleshed citrus was found by a farmer walking through his orchard in South America. Citrus, pear, and apple trees have a tendency to throw out new varieties once in a while—sort of a genetic hiccup called a “sport.” Cara Caras are supposedly a sport from a Washington Navel Orange tree. They’re also called Red Navels but are not to be confused with Blood Oranges, which are deeper in color.

Cara Caras are generally a low-acid citrus with a taste that hints of sweet cherry. To my palate, this fruit seems smooth and sweet without the acid bite you sometimes find in other oranges. One medium-sized Cara Cara has approximately 70 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrates (5 percent of RDA), 3 grams of fiber (12 percent RDA), 1 gram of protein, 6 percent vitamin A, 120 percent vitamin C, and 6 percent calcium. Its season is short—winter only.

Remember, Cara Caras look almost exactly like regular Navels, so don’t be surprised if you think you’re cutting into a Navel Orange and find the inside a red-pink instead. Heck—take the opportunity to impress coworkers with your awareness of this fruit, and maybe even make some jokes. I’ll start—Question: “How does a Cara Cara get going in the morning?” Answer: “It peels out.” Bada-bing! Thank you. You’re too kind. No, really.

Enjoy & Be Fruitful!

 

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