Ugli, also known as Jamaican tangelo, uglifruit, or uniq fruit, is a type of citrus fruit that is native to Jamaica. The fruit is a natural hybrid of tangerine (or orange) and pomelo (or grapefruit), hence the name tangelo. The original ugli tree is thought to have been a hybrid of a Seville orange tree, grapefruit, and tangerine and was found growing in the wild in Jamaica. Today, ugli fruit is gaining popularity for its unique novelty and delicious citrus flavour that combines the best of orange and grapefruit. It’s also notably easy to eat, thanks to its loose outer skin.
History of ugli
Like grapefruit, ugli is a natural hybrid. It was discovered by a man named F.G. Sharp around 1917, who found it spontaneously growing in the wild near Brown’s Town in Jamaica. It is not uncommon for citrus fruits to naturally hybridise, combining the elements of two fruits into one unique fruit. Grapefruit is another example of a natural hybrid citrus fruit.
F.G. Sharp began to propagate the newfound fruit, and the Sharp family went on to pass it through several generations of budwood grafting. In 1934 it was first exported overseas to England and Canada where it was marketed as the Exotic Tangelo. The name was then changed to ugli, which is now a registered trademark of the fruit copyrighted to G.G.R. Sharp, the son of F.G. Sharp. Ugli is a play on the word ugly, referring to the slightly unpleasant appearance of the fruit. When not sold under the ugli brand, the fruit is referred to as a Jamaican tangelo or uniq fruit.
More recently there have also been smaller versions of ugli fruit available, called baby ugli fruit. These are a good size for snacking.
What does ugli look like?
Ugli has a teardrop shape and rough, wrinkled outer skin with a greenish-yellow colour when unripe. When the fruit reaches peak ripeness the skin turns orange. Ugli is slightly larger than a grapefruit and has less seeds. Its flesh is very juicy and sweet compared to a grapefruit and it lacks in the bitter flavour. Its skin is al extremely fragrant.
What does ugli taste like??
The flavour of ugli is said to taste more like a combination of lemon and tangerine than grapefruit and orange. It is more sour than oranges and less bitter than grapefruits. The fruit is slightly sweet and acidic in taste. Ugli is in season from December to April.
How to eat ugli fruit
Ugli is eaten in the same was as other citrus fruits, with the added bonus that it’s easier to peel thanks to its thick and loose outer skin. Just remove the peel, separate the ugli into sections, and eat it as you would an orange or a mandarin. Ugli can also be sliced in half and eaten with a spoon, like a grapefruit.
You can use ugli the same as you would an orange, grapefruit, or any other citrus fruit. It can be made into juices, smoothies, and cocktails, marmalades, chutneys, and relishes. Ugli can also be added to lamb or duck recipes in place of orange. The fruit can also be mixed into salads or stir fries to give a sweet citrusy flavour. You can also boil ugli and add it to desserts in the form of a compote or puree.
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