Mutant Citrus Invades Gourmet Garage


Hidden among the pink grapefruit and key limes, this strange-looking bird.

Gourmet Garage has always specialized in weird citrus. It was there that I first spotted the “hand of Buddha” orange, which is all orange skin and scraggly extrusions, a source of zest, but no sort of hand-fruit. But yesterday, another oddball orange-colored item appeared that I couldn’t identify, and–wouldn’t you know it–there was no identifying label, nor could the employees of the store tell me what it was.

These orange-colored citrus fruits had a nib at one end, and were elongated. They ranged in length from two to three inches and had a thin peel, which was exceedingly fragrant, like orange blossoms. But the fruit proved disappointing. It was so tart that my face screwed up into a grimace when I tasted it.

What could it be? I wondered. But a little googling led me to a tentative answer. If you can confirm or deny my identification, please do.

A comparison of the mystery fruit next to a common clementine (itself a product of genetic manipulation).

Turn page for the dramatic results.

The fruit appears to be an orangequat–a cross between a juice orange and a kumquat. Why some botanist would want to do this is beyond me, except that the skin is sweeter than usual, and the flesh more sour. So sour, in fact, as to be inedible, but it might make a good braise, and the sweeter zest might be good in a cake or something.

Here’s the passage I copied from

“Orangequat – A cross between a Kumquat and a Orange. It has a sweet rind and slightly bitter pulp like a Kumquat but is quite a bit larger with a distinctly orange flavor.”

And here’s the text from

“NIPPON ORANGEQUAT Orangequats are a hybrid between oranges and kumquats. They are eaten in the same way as a kumquat (skin and all). Orangequats are larger, with a thick, tender sweet skin and a juicy, sour center. The trees are extremely cold hardy and small, making them an ideal container or hedge plant. Self fertile.”


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