Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tangerine Dream

There is a lovely citrus fruit that helps me through the shorter, colder days of winter, the delectably sweet tangerine. Its happy flavor reminds me of sunshine on the ugliest of winter days. I’m not the only one who relishes winter citrus, recently CNN ran an Eatocracy piece on one author’s love of Clementine oranges. 

Citrus trees are ubiquitous in Southern California; many homes in established neighborhoods host multiple kinds of citrus. I grew up climbing trees in mini-orchard of that included grapefruit, orange, tangerine, tangelo, tangerine, lemon, and lime. In my current garden, I inherited well-established tangerine and lime trees. We planted a lemon tree that was a gift from my in-laws and this will be the first year we have fruit!

But those tangerines, those lovely, sweet, smiling tangerines – sweet enough to divert attention away from processed sugary snacks and healthy enough to give a much needed dose of Vitamin C during cold and flu season!  Scientists are now theorizing that tangerines can help fight our nation’s obesity epidemic

Tree is a little droopy because of all the fruit!
I usually have the first ripe fruit by mid-December, but happily the bounty has come early this year. My tree is so weighed down by fruit that I have been harvesting as soon as the tangerines become ripe! I take them to work to share (very popular with the co-workers) and I leave a bowl of them in the family room for easy snacking. 

Since the turn of the twentieth century, there has been an American Christmas tradition that my family follows to this day: an orange or other sweet citrus fruit in children’s stockings. Historically, fresh fruit was very dear during the winter, especially in areas where fresh food was not immediately available.  It was a small sign of great love from parent to child for this orange fruit contained a promise of health and warmer days to come.

Home grown tangerines don't have the even coloring like supermarket fruits, but they taste so much better!

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