April 13, 2023

Freeze This Fancy Citrus Fruit Before the Season Ends

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Sumo citrus season is almost over, and I am a mess. By the end of this month, the lumpy, juicy fruit will have vanished from produce markets and grocery stores alike, leaving me in a state of longing. If you’ve never had the fruit, you should go get some now—but don’t give yourself an ulcer gorging on acidic citrus. Sumo citrus freezes surprisingly well, and there’s an added textural benefit.

A couple of nights ago, I ate a two sumos and tweeted about it, because I can’t help but tweet my every passing thought.

It wasn’t one of my most popular tweets—it was fairly boring—but I’m glad I tweeted it, because it garnered an exquisite reply:

I peeled one into segments yesterday and stuck it in the freezer until the insides were slushy, and it was next level scrumptious.

I sent this man a direct message, as I was intrigued by his method. I asked him how long he let them freeze before eating them, to find a slushy sweet spot, so to speak. “I think about 45 minutes,” he replied. “If you catch it before it’s fully frozen, it’s so juicy/slushy and a real treat. If I leave it in too long, I’ll pull it out for like 15 minutes before I eat it.”

I put a couple of segments on a plate, then set them in the freezer for 45 minutes. As promised, the texture had changed due to the fruit’s high water content. As you probably know, water expands as it freezes, which ruptures the fruit’s cellular walls. If you were to freeze and then fully thaw the segments, they would be mushy in your mouth, but eating them while they’re partially frozen gives the segments popsicle vibes.

For best results, peel the fruit, removing as much stringy white pith as possible. Set the segments apart on a plate, tray, or baking sheet, then pop the whole thing in the freezer for 45 minutes if you plan on eating them immediately.

If you don’t plan to eat them right away, freeze them for a full hour until they’re completely frozen, then transfer them to a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer. Next time you want a mini citrus popsicle, take as many segments as you like out of the bag and let them thaw for 15 minutes. You can also add the segments to smoothies, or use them in recipes—just don’t let them fully thaw and then eat out of hand, unless you like mushy fruit.

Of course, you can do this with nearly any citrus fruit, not just Sumos, but avoid this maneuver with navel oranges. According to DoesItGoBad.com, a “very bitter compound called limonin develops in oranges when they are frozen. This compound is found in higher levels in Navel oranges, which makes them a poor choice for freezing whole or as juice.” Sumos don’t do that though, because Sumos are perfect.

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