Last Friday, the FedEx guy came by my house with a rather large box from Cushman's Fruit. As I signed for it, I noted that it was addressed to my husband, so I left it unopened.
When he came home, I told him someone sent him fruit. We opened the box to find no gift card, no sender name (on box or inside). "Someone sent you grapefruit? But we live in Florida," I said.
"Must be Stanley," my husband replied. Stanley is his stepfather, who
lives in Pennsylvania. Each year, we send him oranges or something else
tropical as a friendly reminder that he has to shovel snow and we
Turns out, they aren't grapefruits at all. The three dozen oversized
fruits are Honeybells, a seedless hybrid of Dancy tangerines and Duncan
grapefruits. These natural mutants were discovered in 1945 by a farmer
who sold the first batch to Ed Cushman, who ran a gift shop and fruit
packing plant in West Palm Beach. Cushman started selling the strange
fruit, which is harvested only once a year, in December and January.
Although Honeybells are part grapefruit and grafted onto sour orange
tree stock, they're extremely sweet, seedless, and juicy. Very, very juicy.
In fact, the Honeybells come packed with bibs resembling those that come
with lobsters in tacky seaside restaurants. I immediately threw out
the bibs with the packing material and wish I hadn't. The Honeybells
are heavy with juice, making them resemble a water balloon more than an
orange. Cutting into the golden flesh, I immediately got juice in my
eye. And all over my iPhone case. The only way to eat them is over the
sink, the sticky juice running down your chin and elbows. I suppose like
mangoes, eating them in the bathtub would also work.
The taste is that of an orange on steroids -- and no hint of grapefruit (which actually would have been welcome).
So, we have about two dozen more Honeybells to go. And they're large. If
anyone has any suggestions on what to do with them (besides the obvious
juicing and eating), please let me know.
Oh, and turns out they weren't a present from my husband's stepfather
and the sender remains a mystery. So if you recently gifted our
household with a box of Honeybells -- thank you for the mystery fruit!
If you want to try some Honeybells yourself, the Cushman family still
sells them from their gift shop in West Palm Beach, or you can order them
online. But hurry -- it's already January.
Cushman's, 3325 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-965-3535.
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