Places we eat

The Boise Citrus Trials

Citrus fruits are a perfect winter fruit for so many reasons.  They are harvested in the winter months, when little else is in season.  They are full of vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system and helps us to ward off, or recover from, winter colds and flues.  I had a cold myself recently, so have been indulging in extra citrus.

As a former Florida Girl, citrus fruits are near and dear to my heart.  My local farmers’ market citrus grower used to offer at least a dozen varieties of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines from his orchard.  You could sample slices at the market and buy them by the pound or by the bushel.  The grower was probably in his 70s, and hadn’t raised his prices in years. I used to buy a bushel of grapefruit to take my parents at Christmas, for which he charged $12.  I used to tell him that he should charge more, and he’d say that he’d been charging $12 for so long, that raising his prices would just confuse him.

Here in Idaho, needless to say, really good citrus is much harder to come by.  The Fred Meyer was trying hard though, with this sign featuring less commonly found citrus varieties:

Marty and I decided to sample them, and try to locate some quality citrus here in Boise.

We got a Cara Cara orange, a Blood orange, and a couple of Texas red grapefruit at Freddy’s.  The Meyer lemons turned out to be false advertising:  they were sold out, so we found those at the Boise Co-op instead.  We also picked up some organic navel oranges there.

So, what did we think?  The Blood Oranges were pretty and red, but a little tart.  Something different, but not my favorite orange.  The Cara Caras were sweeter but not anything spectacular either as far as oranges go.  The Texas grapefruits were juicy and good, so we do recommend those.  Marty claims that TX grapefruit are better than FL ones,  which I doubt, but the TX ones looked a lot better than the FL ones at Freddys, so we didn’t buy any.  The sad truth is that Florida is probably just too far away.

I thought that the clear winners were the organic navel oranges from the Co-op.  Personally, when shopping for oranges, I like to look for the thinnest skinned ones, and these were the thinnest-skinned of our samples.  I hate it when you peel and orange and the skin is so thick that it’s hard to remove and the orange is a third smaller than you thought it was.  I think that the thick-skinned ones are bred for shipability, sadly, like a lot of things are these days, while the thinner skinned are the more traditional varieties, maybe actually bred for taste and juiciness.

We’re also partial to the clementines popular at Christmas time.  Tiny, extra sweet, and extra easy to peel, they’re hard to beat.

That left us with the Meyer Lemons.  Read on to see what we did with those.


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