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The Dekopon: One Sweet Citrus

Hot & Cool Food Trends

Have you heard of the Dekopon? It’s a Japanese hybrid of mandarin and orange that’s said by some to be the best-tasting citrus fruit on the planet. The Dekopon is native to Japan, but has been quietly grown in California for over a decade.

The fruit created a sensation last year when a California-grown version of the Dekopon showed up at local groceries under the marketing name Sumo (which makes me think of enormous, nearly nude wrestlers, but that’s another story).

The L.A. Times’ David Karp last year called it the best tasting citrus he’s ever tried, and he claims to have tried more than 1,000 citrus varieties.  The website Gizmodo pronounced it as “the fruit of the future.”

The Dekopon is big, seedless and quite easy to peel, with a distinctive bump at one end, similar to a tangelo. The flesh fairly melts in your mouth, and the pulp has a delightful balance of sweetness and acidity. The flavor is similar to the Ponkan mandarin, which is adored in Asia and most familiar to Americans in the form of canned mandarin oranges.

The new crop of the Dekopon began arriving in California stores in late winter, and should be making its way onto grocery shelves and to farmers markets this spring. You may also be able to find it in Asian markets. But it’s proven to be a bit hard to find outside of California; hopefully, that will be changing as the Dekopon becomes more established. The sweet citrus fruit has turned up in New York City, so that’s promising.

Fruit of the future? Whether you find it marketed as Dekopon or Sumo Citrus, you might want to give it a try and see what you think.

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