Drum roll please…I would like to introduce the most delicious orange out there: the cara cara.
No, this is not the orange you see in the semi-disturbing Dexter intro (that we have all learned to love). That is a blood orange. This, my friends, is a hidden gem of the orange family. The cara cara is a mutation fruit whose parentage is a bit uncertain. Said to be a crossover of a Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel, the berry-orange hybrid was a happy discovery. Move over “basic” oranges…you have nothing on the cara cara.
I stumbled across the orange fusion several years ago by accident. I thought I was buying regular old oranges. When I got home and unpeeled my snack I was confused by the pinkish-red interior. I remember thinking something was wrong with my citrus purchase as I closely examined it and asked my now husband if he thought it was safe to eat. Thankfully he gave me the go ahead or I would have missed out on tasting the superior orange flavor of a berry-cherry wannabe. To this day when cara cara season hits (which peaks in winter and dominates the orange section from December to April) I jump for joy in the grocery store produce section as I shovel them into my bag. No shame.
The pink navel has an orange flavor that is naturally sweet with hints of cherry and notes of blackberry. An orange experience like no other, the cara cara is juicy delicious and low in acidity which is why it exudes a sweeter taste. Like any orange, the nutritional value is high—few in calories, high in fiber and loaded with vitamin C. Plus, they have fewer seeds and peel easily which is an orange eater’s dream come true.
Beyond being the best winter snack ever (aka I am eating a tropical orange masterpiece…in your face snow!), the cara cara orange is an excellent addition to your meals since its slight sweetness is very versatile. Add pieces to your salads, as a yogurt topping or as a component in a main dish. Try this orange and balsamic chicken for a citrusy, sweetness in a savory dish. Dive right into dessert with this cara cara orange cream tart that completely embraces the essence of this one-of-a-kind orange. Or just drink it. Cara cara mimosa anyone?
This is a winter fruit you must have on your plate. Okay, skip the plate, in your mouth! No orange will ever compare….juuuust saying!
Have you tried a cara cara orange before? Are you a fan?