NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2002
Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas Citrus Is Now In Seasonow is the time that Texas citrus fruit is ripe and plentiful, and easily available at stores for use in Holiday recipes, for gift giving, and for consumption to maintain all-around good health.
By Cynthia W. Mueller
The citrus industry in Texas has led in the research and development of new varieties with even more good looks and more nutrition than ever. Things have changed for the better since the days of the sour Marsh White grapefruit - now they are sweeter and tasty enough to be eaten out of hand.
Commercially, grapefruit are divided into categories. The Ruby-Sweet Category® includes the famous Ruby Red, and other redder varieties such as Henderson and Ray. The smooth, yellow skins are naturally tinged with a reddish blush, and the interior color is 3 to 5 times redder than the Ruby Red.
The Rio Star Category® combines the two reddest varieties - Rio Red and Star Ruby grapefruit. There is an overall blush on the exterior peel with deep red interior color which is 7 to 10 times redder than the Ruby Red.
The Flame Category® contains fruit which are red but not too red, with the same sweet, delectable taste as the Ruby-Sweet and Rio Star. The redder varieties came into existence through the A&M Citrus Center’s efforts to induce mutations through ionizing radiation. Scientists are now realizing that the reddest fruits contain lycopene, a cancer-fighting compound which may reduce the incidence of cancers of the prostate, breast and cervix, along with citric acid and pectin.
“Marrs and Navel oranges are also excellent this season, and plentiful,” says Dr. Julian Sauls, Professor and Extension Horticulturist (Citrus) at the Texas A&M Agricultural Research Center at Weslaco, Texas, "and Rio Star accounts for nearly 75 percent of Texas grapefruit today.”
Texas Citrus as Gifts
During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays oranges and grapefruits are popular gifts, and boxed sales are good ideas for fund raisers. There is a comprehensive listing of Texas citrus gift fruit shippers on Dr. Sauls’ website (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/citrus/) in the sub-directory 'Texas Citrus and Subtropical Fruit’. In addition, county agents interested in exploring the idea of fund raisers can contact commercial packinghouses listed at commercial packinghouses. Most offer either 40-lb or 20-lb cartons of Texas oranges and/or grapefruit for that purpose.
Texas Citrus and Nutrition
Begin exploring recipes by visiting TexaSweet Citrus Marketing’s website where some useful links to nutrition facts and research into cancer-fighting compounds are listed. Because the National Cancer Institute recommends eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, the red-fleshed citrus fruit, loaded with vitamins C and A, as well as the lycopene and other cancer-fighting properties, are at the top of the list for desirability.
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