Have you noticed a lumpy fruit that looks like a cross between a grapefruit and an orange? If it’s wrapped in a rough, puffy, slightly loose-fitting greenish-yellow to orange skin and is about the size of a grapefruit than it’s probably a fruit called Ugli. But looks can be deceiving. Inside its ugly peel, Ugli fruit is nearly seedless. It has pinkish-orange or sunshiny yellow-orange pulp loaded with a tender juiciness that is sweet and a little tangy. Packed with nutrients and delicious alone or in recipes, Ugli fruit should be one of your go-to citrus fruits.
A wild tree bearing fruit tasting of a mixture of grapefruit and tangerine was discovered in 1917 by estate owner, Mr. F. G. Sharp at a place called Trout Hall, near Brown's Town in Jamaica. Mr. Sharp and his family thought the flavor unique and began developing the fruit commercially, selling it to markets in Europe and America. It was initially sold as the the Exotic Tangelo from Jamaica and became a hit for its sweet-bitter taste.
The fruit’s name changed from Exotic Tangelo to Ugli in 1934 when an importer wrote to ask for “..more of that ugly fruit…” Because of its ugly appearance--rough, wrinkly, greenish-yellow peel wrapped loosely around orange pulpy citrus flesh--the name caught on. The spelling was changed to Ugli, and the trademark was registered. Americans and Europeans pronounce the name ugly, while in Jamaica it is pronounced “hugly.”
Despite the fruit's rather unappealing exterior, the rind has a fragrant, delicate scent and the juicy flesh tastes fresh and a bit intriguing. It's sourer than an orange, but less bitter than a grapefruit and is often assumed to be a lemon-tangerine hybrid, instead of an orange-grapefruit. When ripe, the fruit is juicy and full of flavor.
The older the fruit looks on the outside, the sweeter it is on the inside. Its acid-sweet, zesty, pungent flavor is similar to an orange, but some enthusiasts insist it tastes more like a mandarin orange with faint hints of pineapple or honey. Whatever the flavor, what Ugli fruit lacks in looks, it makes up for in zesty, refreshing deliciousness.
The blotchy green-yellow surface turns orange when the fruit is at its peak of ripeness. Generally, the fruit is a little bigger than a grapefruit and has fewer seeds. As with most citrus, Ugli fruit ripens and is ready to be harvested between late November and early April and is distributed in the United States and Europe between December and April. Occasionally some Ugli fruit trees harvest late, and you can find the fruit also between July and September.
Don’t let the fruit’s odd shape, wrinkly, green, yellowish or sometimes russet skin keep you from buying it. Once you take a bite of its juicy flesh, you’ll be sold. It’s sweet and tangy flavor will tantalize your taste buds. The fruit is easily peeled to be eaten on its own, used in salads, yogurts, ice cream, or even baked in cakes and pies. Refrigerate only if the fruit is not to be used within a couple of days. Refrigerated fruit keeps about three weeks.
Ugli Fruit is distributed throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia and is available in most national grocery stores, supermarkets, wholesalers, and specialist fruit dealers and retailers. If you can’t find ugly fruit at your local grocery store, talk to the produce department. Odds are, they will be able to have some shipped to the store. There are even apps to help you find unusual produce like ugli.
Ugli fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals, and has only 45 calories per serving, making it a nutritious addition to your diet. A single serving of Ugli fruit, which is equal to about half of the fruit, contains 2 grams of dietary fiber. Eating a diet rich in fiber helps your digestive system work more efficiently. The nutrients in Ugli fruit also help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to MayoClinic women should eat between 21 and 25 grams of fiber each day, men 30 to 38 grams. Munching on Ugli fruit is a delicious way to help you achieve your daily fiber intake goals.
The high vitamin C content in a serving of Ugli fruit is another health benefit. A serving of Ugli fruit contains 70 percent of the 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C you need each day. Vitamin C helps keep your immune system strong, acting as an antioxidant and destroying free radicals, which can cause inflammation and tissue damage. Vitamin C is also crucial in the formation of collagen, the connective tissue in your muscles and skin. Enjoying a delicious serving of Ugli fruit helps you glow inside and out.
Ugli fruit contains no fat or cholesterol. One serving of ugli fruit supplies 2 percent of the 1,000 milligrams of calcium you need each day for strong bones and teeth. The same serving supplies 1 gram of protein, a nutrient that enables your body to repair and restore cells, providing you with more energy. A 2002 article published in the "Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” states that eating citrus fruits on a regular basis might lower your risk of cancer, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, and cataracts. Five more reasons to add Ugli fruit to your diet.
Because of its unusual sweet, tangy flavor, Ugli fruit can be eaten on its own, but it also makes a delicious addition to all sorts of recipes. Replace orange juice with Ugli fruit juice in your favorite sauce or marinade. Have a glass of freshly squeezed Ugli fruit juice for breakfast or use the juice in a yummy fruit smoothie. Combine spinach leaves, Ugli fruit sections, avocado cubes and sliced strawberries for a salad rich in taste, vitamins, and fiber. Pairing with avocado and sweet onions will bring out its best flavor. Toss in bitter herbs and leaves like chicory and radicchio for an exciting bite or add to grapes, bananas, and strawberries. Ugli fruit is delicious in compotes or gelatin. Use grated rind as flavoring or candy the peel for a sweet snack.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.