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Sweet citrus of January

One of my favourite things about the winter is the incredible accessibility to citrus fruit.

The peak of the citrus growing season in California and Florida is now, and if you cruise the aisles of your favourite green grocer and pay a little extra attention to what is on the shelves, you will find a few new and interesting varieties.

Fortunately, you have the ability to buy fruit one piece at a time, affording an excellent opportunity to try it all and find out what your new favourite will be.

Right now, I can’t seem to get enough of the Cara Cara Orange. The Cara Cara is readily available but you will likely not be able to tell it from any other regular orange unless there is a sign identifying it.

It has incredibly bright orange skin and pinkish toned flesh, making it almost look like a cross between regular orange and blood orange. It’s actually a type of navel orange that originated at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Valencia, Venezuela, hence the name.

The orange itself is very sweet and low in acidity, making it perfect for eating raw or cooking.

It is perfect in a salad with shaved fennel and fresh peppery arugula. Simply just toss a handful of arugula leaves with a few very thin slices of fresh fennel bulb and some orange segments.

Dress it with a basic vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, a little Dijon mustard and don’t forget a pinch of salt and pepper.

Give these babies a try; I think you will love it as much as I do.

And while you are there, pick yourself up a handful or three of fresh kumquats.

Kumquats are small oval citrus fruit; they look like a miniature orange but are the size of a cherry.

They have a very thin rind that is completely edible and incredibly sweet. The flesh of the fruit is also edible and intensely sour. You are supposed to eat the whole thing, skin and all although you may want to pass on the seeds.

My favourite way to use them is to cut them in half, remove the seeds and boil them in a simple syrup until they’re soft and give up all their juice and pulp, then use that to flavour sauces, dressings, cocktails or add it to some hot mustard and use it as a glaze for grilled pork or fish.

I promise, either of these will brighten your day and add a little sunshine to your table in the middle of January.

Give them a try.

Angie Quaale is a local foodie and owner of Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store.