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CROP OF THE WEEK: TANGELO
• The tangelo probably originated in southeastern Asia more than 3,500 years ago as an insect cross-pollination of the Mandarin orange and the pummelo, the ancestor of the grapefruit.
• Today there are several varieties of tangelos. Most are known by the region in Florida where they are commonly grown.
• Minneolas are the most popular variety and are the primary one grown in the Yuma area.
• Yuma County ranks No. 1 in Minneola production within Arizona. In 2005, more than 2,500 acres were harvested here with a value in excess of $3.2 million. They are harvested here in the winter months.
• Minneolas have a smooth to slightly pebbled texture, peel very easily and have few if any seeds. They are easily identified by the knob-like formation at the stem end and their deep orange color.
• Tangelos have a delicious tart-sweet flavor and are very juicy. They can be used in many of the recipes calling for oranges and will yield a slightly different flavor.
• Tangelos have become a popular fruit commercially since they are larger than tangerines, have fewer seeds and have much of the desirable flavor of the tangerine.
• Tangelos have found a popular niche in the gift fruit market.
• A tangelo contains 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, 80 percent of the daily value of folate and 6 percent of the daily value of potassium. The fruit also is a good source of vitamin A and B6, calcium, niacin and magnesium.
• A tangelo will keep a few days at room temperature, but for longer storage, the fruits should be refrigerated. Squeezed Minneola juice will keep refrigerated several days and is good mixed with other citrus juices.
• Tangelo fruit and juice do not freeze well. It is best to enjoy this fruit while you can fresh – then look forward to more the next year.
• Minneola trees are quite vigorous, and given adequate room to develop, will make large trees.
Source: Kurt Nolte, agriculture agent with the Yuma County Cooperative Extension. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-3904.