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The Ugli fruit (pronounced “ugly,” and capitalized intentionally) from Jamaica is considered to be an exotic tangelo, finding distinction in the growing list of gourmet citrus fruits available in the North American market. It also lives up to its name: it’s pretty gnarly looking on the outside with a thick, knobbly yellow and green skin, odd shape, and large size—about the size of a grapefruit—though what’s inside this Jamaican hybrid citrus is pure gold. Hopefully this “ugly” fruit’s appearance won’t deter you from trying it!

This citrus fruit is a hybrid blend of a grapefruit (or pomelo), an orange and a tangerine. Other than its rather significant size, very little of the Ugli fruit’s characteristics remind one of a grapefruit, except perhaps that it is also extremely juicy—perhaps one of the juiciest citrus fruits available. The taste of the delicious Ugli fruit is just a bit tart but predominantly that of a very sweet orange or tangerine with hints of honey. If you love Satsumas or other tangerines, you’re bound to love their less attractive, large, Jamaican cousins.

How to eat Ugli fruit

Due to its varied coloration, you will need to check the feel of an Ugli fruit to see if it’s ripe. The desired level of ripeness is marked by a heavy feel and texture that you would expect of a grapefruit. The skin will also give in to any exterior pressure.

  • Eat the Ugli fruit like a tangerine, peeling and sectioning it. It has a tangy yet sweet flavor, and is good for eating as a snack.
  • Cut the Ugli fruit in half and use a spoon, just like you were eating a halved grapefruit. Serve it for breakfast in place of your grapefruit for a sweeter start to your day.
  • Use the Ugli fruit in a fresh fruit salad. The unique taste works anywhere a grapefruit or mandarin orange would be appropriate.
  • Combine it with a leafy green salad. Start by adding it to an Asian salad instead of using mandarin oranges. Be adventurous! Consider the flavor as a sweet addition to your greens.

Typically available from December through April, these Ugli fruit are the first of the season and on sale through January 20th, 2013.

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