With the festive madness behind us January can seem like a bleak month. Wallets have been stretched, belly's stuffed to bursting point and respite from wet Irish winter seems a long way off. But it's not all bad. We can still enjoy tasty hearty food like soups and stews that our bodies need it to get us through the cold. While there isn't really any new Irish produce coming into season, there are an abundance of carrots, parsnips, cabbage and brussels sprouts still growing. The potato harvest is well finished so they're coming out of storage, but are still good, the same with the apples. But what really comes into its own in January is citrus fruit, usually from mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy and Morocco.
The big juicy sweet Oranges you know and love are in season now. The navel and navelina varieties are the cream of the crop (you'll know them by the belly button like hole at the bottom of them) and there is a brand called "Ripoll" that year in year out produce the best Oranges we've come across. The season runs from December to April and they're worth waiting for from May to October.
Seville Oranges have also arrived so it's time to make your marmalade for the year. Their season is quite short, from January to mid February, so you'd want to get cooking quite soon. I'm going to try a Nigel Slater recipe I found thats supposed to be excellent so I'll post it when it's done.
The other citrus that we see now is the beautiful Blood Orange. Their unique red flesh is bursting with sweet raspberry hinted flavour. The Italians generally use these for juicing but they make great eating oranges too. The early varieties don't have the deep crimson colour of the later Sanguinello variety which comes in around mid January. Blood Oranges are generally only around until March so it's quite a short season. Having said that we really are spoilt for choice at this time of year with sweet easy to peel Clemenules just in, and if you prefer more of a sour bite to your fruit Minneolas are back in season now too. I suppose it's natures way of looking after us in the colder months with all of the above bursting with vitamin C.