Once you're down here, you learn about the varieties of fruits and their growing seasons. For instance, up north, I came to learn about dozens from the hundreds of apple varieties (my favorites are Winesaps, and the average person has never heard of them.) When you live in an agricultural area, before long, you realize that, like those apples, there is more than just the generic 'strawberry'. There are big ones, little ones, sweeter ones, redder ones. Now, on our fifth winter strawberry season, thanks to following FlStrawberryFst on Twitter, I learned this:
The six patented Florida varieties of strawberries are CARMINE, EARLIBRITE, ROSA LINDA, STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL, SWEET CHARLIE and WINTER DAWN.
And so it is with the citrus varieties. Sure, we've all heard of Navels, Valencias and Tangerines. Maybe you're used to those little cases of Clementines at Christmastime. But have you heard of Tangelo, the hybrid of a tangerine and a pomelo or a grapefruit? I'd heard of the name, but never saw one. Heck, I never even knew that what was sold in the NY supermarkets as the Breadfruit was really a Pomelo.
The Tangelo is really known by another name down here. The Honeybell. Never heard of it? That's really a shame. Take a look:
It looks like an orange with a dome on top. You'd expect, if you knew its origins, that it would be very tart, wouldn't you? Until the other day, I hadn't had the chance to find out.
These are the rarest of the rare. Like the Satsumas, they have a very limited growing area and season. Each is harvested for four to six weeks. I'd heard of them, but by the time I remembered "hey, what about those Honeybells?" the growing season had passed. Yes, February 1st and I was SOL on something because the season was OVER.
Not this year. It's been in my head for two weeks that we had to get our Honeybells this year. Luck was on our side on Saturday, we had plans to check out a new shopping center for job prospects. Our travels took us past some signs that were set up, Burma Shave style. Ed calls out "Hey, they've got Honeybells!" and we pulled off the highway into a nice farm stand.
Had it not been after dark, we could have picked our own. Instead, we found bins full of the non spherical citrus. I picked one up and it was HEAVY. These things are dense for their size, rather the opposite of their Pomelo parentage. I grabbed a few and put them up on the counter and Ed pointed out that we need to buy a bag of fruit. For ten bucks, we got a lone Ruby Red Grapefruit and over a dozen Honeybells.
Later that night, I finally tried one and found it the juiciest, sweetest relative of an orange that I'd ever consumed. It's like a watermelon in that you will wear some juice! In retrospect, it's a good thing that the U Pick only sold by the bag, otherwise I would have been ticked at myself that we only had four! Tonight, I had one that had been refrigerated. If anything, it seemed sweeter, but refrigeration also helped contain the juice better.
So, If you've ever seen them in the market and wondered what they heck the things are and if they were worthy of the premium price tag-they are. Or, you can come down here and visit me and try them for yourself. Hmmm, makes that price in the supermarket seem reasonable after considering airfare, doesn't it?