In the teeth of winter I find it reassuring to go to the store and purchase a few of those gems of citrus cross-breeding known as Mineolas. They are a cross between a tangelo and a grapefruit and have a lovely tang combined with particular sweetness. One aspect of the fruit that sets it apart is a protruberance at the stem end of the fruit.
I have had Mineolas that varied in greatness or sweetness or thickness of peel, but before this year I would say that I haven’t had a bad one. They are not like blood oranges which also come out at this time of year, which I’ve found can be dry. And I have had a bland Pomelo or two, although I would never claim an expertise. But I love me some Mineolas, and when they didn’t show up this season (according to the website, Jan to April) I had to ask.
Here in Columbus, my local supermarket is Giant Eagle. “We’re not expecting any in this year,” I was told. “Blood oranges, neither. Maybe there was a bad crop.”
So I moved on to Kroger. It’s a bigger company, maybe a better suppliers. There I found three bags of tanglos. In each was maybe one fruit that had a protuberance hinting at Mineolas-ness. I bought two bags; I ate two before I left the lot. They had good juice and good tartness, but the sweetness I craved was missing. My Jones grew worse.
My third option was Luckys. The first Luckys Organic Market east of the Mississippi was recently opened at the bottom of my hill. It’s across fro the Giant Eagle. They’re more expensive. Inside I found blood oranges… and Minneolas - Sunkist Minneolas.
Like most citrus Sunkist, they had thick skins and I’m sure they travelled well. I bought a half dozen. They had pretty good juice, they were tart. But the sweetness I have come to expect in years past was virtually nonexistent. Jones is palpable.
So my question is whether there is an issue with the Mineola crop this year? Or as a result of new competition has my local grocery decided to start to completely slack? Or in an age of globalization when we never have to travel far to get what we need to complete a recipe, do I have to find a different speciality greengrocer for all the produce I might want?
If anyone can help, I would be grateful.