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Winter: Prime Time for Festive Fruit

Add color and nutrition to your holiday table with these fruit recipes.
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WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

You wouldn't think of winter as the perfect time to serve fruit, but the timing actually couldn't be better. Just think of clove-studded orange slices stewing in apple cider, or chardonnay-poached pears dressed with sweetened cranberries.

Experts say fruit is worthy of being front and center on holiday tables for three reasons:

  • Fruit adds freshness, flavor, and color to recipes, to serving plates, and to a holiday or party spread.
  • Fruit adds fiber and nutrients to an otherwise predictably unwholesome menu. "Fruits help balance the rest of the fatty foods people traditionally experience in the meal during the holiday season," notes Robert Schueller, a spokesman for Melissa's Produce.
  • Fruits are perfect for the holiday season because they're widely available in produce departments across the country. If you can't find a particular fruit there, you can often find it in the frozen or dried fruit section.

 

So Many Fruits, So Little Time

People complain to Janet Rouslin, an associate professor with the College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I., that their consumption of fruit declines in winter because the quality of their usual choices (say, apples or peaches) isn't as good as during the warm-weather months.

"I remind them that winter fruits actually include a large variety," says Rouslin. She encourages people to include all varieties of citrus fruit, pomegranates, cranberries, and dates.

Other festive winter fruits to consider, according to Schueller, are the Korean pear (the best of the Asian pears), persimmons, and the very holiday-appropriate star fruit.

Quince is a winter fruit favorite of Michael Anthony, executive chef of the Gramercy Tavern restaurant in New York. Anthony stacks wooden crates full of quince in the lobby of the restaurant so their aroma welcomes guests as they enter.

"I like to lightly poach quince in white wine and sugar, then sauté wedges of it with foie gras," he says. "It also tastes great with roasted onion puree and toasted brioche."

It's not often thought of a fruit because it is creamy rather than sweet, but the avocado (available in winter, thanks to Florida and California) can add a festive splash of green to holiday salads, appetizers, and casseroles.

But, Schueller says, perhaps no type of fruit is more synonymous with wintertime than citrus, including all types of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, and kumquats.

The Meyer lemon season starts kicking into high gear right around the holiday season.

"These lemons produce a juice that is slightly sweeter than a normal lemon, and through a curing/marinating process the skin is dynamite!" Anthony says.

Our Winter: Their Summer

"People love the idea of a berry dessert soup for the holidays," says Paulette Mitchell, author of the cookbook A Beautiful Bowl of Soup.

But aren't berries in season in the summer? Well, says Miller, raspberries and blueberries come to the U.S. from Chile -- where it is summer during our holiday season. (For a festive and fast berry soup recipe, see Miller's recipe below.)

According to Agnes Perez, an agricultural economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chile is the biggest supplier of imported fruit to the U.S. during the winter months. Also look for grapes, peaches, and nectarines imported from Chile. You might also see clementines imported from Spain and avocados from Mexico, says Perez.

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