Good choice of winter citrus fruits available

The new navel oranges from California and Arizona are in the markets. Expected to be the third-largest on record and 23 percent larger than last year's, this crop of navel oranges is arriving in time for the holidays.

The quality this year is excellent. The pre-holiday fruit will range from medium to small in size; after the first of the year, a broader range of sizes should be available.

The navel orange is known as the winter or ''eating'' orange. It has a deep orange color and a miniature navel formation at the blossom end. This orange peels easily, is juicy, and usually has no seeds.

Flavorful fresh lemons are also a good holiday food value. The juicy fruits coming from desert growing regions have excellent quality, with a good range of sizes.

Tangerines, another California-Arizona citrus crop, will be appearing in Western markets prior to the holidays. It's a good crop, larger than last year's. As the season unfolds, tangerines will appear in Eastern and Midwestern markets, as well as the West.

A basket of fresh citrus fruit makes a nice gift, accompanied by a selection of cheeses, nuts, or jars of homemade preserves.

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