What Is a Sumo Orange and How Do I Use It?

Move over oranges and mandarins, there's a new citrus star on the rise called the Sumo.

sumo oranges

If you're looking for a little sunshine to perk up the last days of winter, you're in luck, because citrus fruits are in peak season right now. While it may be tempting to reach for one of the classics like a tangerine or grapefruit, there's a funny-looking orange called a Sumo that is (in our opinion) the superior choice. Its size and form may look a little daunting, but one peel and taste will reveal how delightful and approachable this guy is. Here's everything you need to know about Sumo citrus fruit.

What Is a Sumo Citrus?

A Sumo citrus is an oversized mandarin orange that's incredibly sweet, seedless and easy to peel. It is larger than the average orange and has a thick and bumpy rind. Its distinguishing feature is the protruding knob located at its stem, which is lovingly referred to as a top knot. This description, along with its name, is a nod to sumo wrestlers and their signature top-knot hairstyle. The name "Sumo" is actually the trademarked brand name of the citrus variety called shiranui.

History of Sumo Citrus Fruit

Shiranui citrus, also known as Dekopon in Japan or Hallabong in Korea, are an orange-satsuma- mandarin crossbreed. It was first cultivated in the 1970s by a Japanese farmer, and was brought to the United States in 1998. However, the fruit didn't hit market shelves until 2011 because of how difficult it is to grow. Today, virtually all of the Sumos sold stateside are grown in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Sumo citrus fruits are usually more expensive compared to other similar varieties due to their short season and the degree of care needed to grow and harvest each fruit.

How to Eat and Cook with a Sumo Citrus

A Sumo citrus can be eaten like an orange or mandarin. Its peel is extremely easy to remove, and so segments will probably become your go-to method of eating. Having said that, there are many fun and easy ways of incorporating this fruit into your cooking and baking. On the savory side, a Sumo's sweet juice can be used in a vinaigrette or a protein marinade. For something sweet, the fruit would make a wonderful upside-down cake or the base of a curd. It would also work well in a spritz cocktail or simply blitzed with some frozen fruit to make a smoothie. If you're still in need of more ideas, search for orange or blood orange recipes and use Sumo citrus as a substitute instead.

Sumo Citrus Nutrition

Sumos are full of good-for-you nutrients that make them a great addition to your diet. One Sumo contains 163% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant and an important building block for your blood vessels, muscles and bones. One Sumo fruit also contains 10% of the Daily Value for potassium, which may help with bone health, heart health and high blood pressure.

Due to its large size, one entire Sumo contains a total of 29 grams of sugar, which is about twice the amount found in an average-size orange. However, remember that these are naturally occurring sugars, not added sugars. A Sumo may have more sugar than an orange, but it also contains a higher amount of fiber and protein, which help slow down digestion to help you feel more satisfied, among other benefits.

Where to Buy Sumo Citrus

Sumo citrus are available from January to April only. They can be found at most major stores like Whole Foods, Albertsons and Target. To find an exact location near you, search your ZIP code on the official Sumo citrus website.

Bottom Line

Sumos are an incredibly sweet, nutritious and easy-to-eat citrus fruit. You can simply peel and eat them as segments, or they can easily be incorporated into a sweet or savory dish. Sumo season is short, so make sure to grab a few every time you see them at the market–you won't be sorry.

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