The ugli fruit certainly lives up to its name with a thick skin, yellowish-green hue and overall nubby appearance. It's only in season from December until April, so you can't be too hesitant in taking a plunge and trying it. What you'll get is a mild citrus fruit that combines the flavors of grapefruit and mandarin oranges. Growers believe the fruit originated from a tree hybrid of Seville orange, grapefruit and tangerine. The name "Ugli" is actually a registered trademark for this fruit that hails from Jamaica, but it may also be sold as "uniq" or "unique" fruit.
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Peel and Go
The peel of the ugli fruit comes off easily to reveal familiar-looking segments of citrus fruit. Eat them as they are, just like you would an orange -- but know that the outer membrane of each segment is rather thick and could be unpleasant to chew. Alternatively, slice the ugli fruit in half like you would a grapefruit and spoon the fruit out from the separating membranes.
Cooking with Ugli Fruit
Toss segments of ugli fruit into a classic fruit salad or squeeze it into juice. You could also use the juice, which is slightly tart and sweet, to make salad dressings and sauces. Substitute ugli fruit for oranges in marmalade. The fruit is sweet enough on its own, but add extra brown sugar or honey if you want to make it into a topping for cheesecake or a dessert sauce.
Selecting a Fruit
Choose a fruit that feels heavy, indicating lots of juice. Although the largest ugli fruit that measure as big as 6 inches are impressive, it's the smaller 4- and 5-inch diameter fruit that is usually sweeter and more flavorful. Early season ugli fruit tend to be tarter than those harvested in the spring. The color of the peel does not reflect an ugli fruit's ripeness. Yellowish or green fruit are fine to eat as they are allowed to ripen on the tree before harvesting. Avoid any fruit with soft brown spots, which indicate spoilage.
Keeping Ugli Fruit Fresh
Store ugli fruit at room temperature, but use within about five days of purchase. If you choose to refrigerate the ugli fruit, it can last up to two weeks. Keeping it too long can cause it to turn bitter.