Sweet and sour

It’s citrus season! Grower Eric Hansen, whose Pine Hill Orchards has been in his family since 1878, grows more than 30 citrus varieties (he sells at the Auburn Farmers’ Market) and says seeking out “unusual, good-tasting varieties” is one of his passions. I asked for recommendations:

1. “Meyer lemons. Half lemon, half mandarin orange is the parentage, and they’re a little bit sweeter and a little lower in acid than your typical lemon. They have a different flavor if you’re going to make a lemon dessert, such as a pie, sorbet, lemon curd.”

2. “A mandarin-kumquat cross, called a mandarinquat, looks like a very large kumquat. You eat it skin and all, and the skin’s the best part. It’s a little sweeter and not as harshly acidic as a normal kumquat. My first picking [was] claimed by Hawks Restaurant, which [candied] them for a dessert for Christmas Eve dinner. I’ll have another picking into January and the beginning of February.”

3. “Wekiwa. It’s a Creek Indian word meaning ‘bubbling spring.’ It’s also called a ‘lavender gem.’ The flesh is a very light purple/lavender color, and it has a guava undertone, like Hawaiian Punch. You can eat them out of hand. I’ve reduced them to make a glaze for barbecue. They make wonderful juice, and I made sorbet out of them and that was fantastic.”