Festive Freshness – A Taste of Summer in Winter

by admin on December 12, 2011

GrapefruitChoosing fruits naturally produced in your region is also better for the environment – fewer miles to travel means less pollution and a lower carbon footprint. The chance of freebies from local producers is much higher than from a faceless multinational corporation, and it tastes better too. It also means you know you’re supporting local producers in your area.

We’ve written before about the benefits of eating seasonally. Locally produced, seasonal fruit is fresher, picked at the optimal time and gets to you quicker, making it tastier, healthier, free from chemical preservatives and packed as full of nutrients as possible.

Finally, eating seasonally stops you getting stuck in a fruit rut. If we don’t think about where our produce comes from, it’s all too easy just to buy the same standard selection year round, month after month. Eating seasonally automatically means variety, and trying out new fruits and recipes – you’re guaranteed to discover some new favourites (after all, you can’t always rely on winning freebies from us to spice up your fruit life).

So, what fruits are in season during wintertime? Obviously this depends where you live – this guide is intended for those based in the USA; obviously local fruits will be different if you’re in a different climate.

Grapefruit
Grapefruits are a fantastic source of vitamin C, calcium and folic acid, and pink varieties are also packed with vitamin A. They’re incredibly effective at boosting the immune system and fighting free radicals, and have been shown to reduce the risk of developing cancer, stroke, kidney stones and cardiovascular disease. They also contain enzymes to help boost weight loss and help the liver flush out toxins, and can ease indigestion.

Eaten within two hours of waking, grapefruit has been shown to boost metabolism, making it a great way to get your day off to a kickstart – simply chop in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Alternatively, you can enjoy grapefruit in a mixed fruit salad, broiled with honey, or in a refreshing spritzer – simply add carbonated water and a sprig of fresh mint to the juice.
In Texas and Florida, peak season for grapefruits is from October through to June. California and Arizona are a little later – starting in January through to June. They can be stored for a week, or two weeks in the refrigerator. When choosing, remember the heavier the fruit is, the more juice it contains.

Clementines
Great for snacking, these tiny sweet citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. They’re also high in citric acid, which promotes healthy, blemish-free skin, and also beta carotene and asorbic acid, which help preserve vision. In addition, their sweet aromatic scent has been shown to release feel-good chemical serotonin.

No recipe ideas needed here – simply peel and enjoy. The peak season for clementines grown in the USA, mostly in California and Florida, is from December to January – make the most of them!

Pears
Pears are an excellent source of vitamins B2, C and E, copper and potassium. They’re also high in pectin – more so than apples – which helps to lower cholesterol and keep intestines healthy.
It’s difficult to beat the flavour of a perfectly ripe and fresh pear, and they’re also incredibly versatile. Try poaching them in red wine and Christmassy spices, adding them to wintry fruit crumble, or as the basis for a sauce or compote to accompany hot or cold meats.
Pears are in season in the USA almost year round, with different varieties peaking at different times. Wintertime varieties include Bosc, Comice, Seckel, Nellis, Forrelle and Anjou.

Persimmon
This deep orange fruit is often overlooked, but gaining in popularity. It resembles a tomato in shape, and like the tomato is technically classed as a berry. It’s a good source of vitamins A and C, contains compounds thought to protect against cancer, and in its peel carries chemicals that may protect skin cells against the effects of aging.

When fully ripe, it’s deliciously sweet, and can be simply enjoyed on its own as a sweet treat or as part of a salad. Persimmon is also delicious with yogurt – either fresh or pureed.
Persimmons are in season in the USA from between October and February. Make sure they’re soft before eating – unripe persimmons tend to have a bitter flavor.

Also in season during wintertime: lemons (unbeatable in terms of health benefits), mandarins, tangerines, satsumas and kumquats (yum).

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