4 Winter Fruits That Pair Perfectly with Your Seasonal Menu
These cool-weather beauties are available for only a few weeks every year. Grab them while you can.
We often lament the disappearance of summer fruit, but winter has its own crop of sweet fruits (and they don’t always get the attention they deserve). There's usually an abundance of apples, pears, grapefruit, and cranberries when the cooler weather arrives, but the appearance of pomelo, quince, and pomegranate are just a few more in-season additions to the winter fruit menu. They may be less common in some states, but they're a treat when you can find them. The next time you go grocery shopping, check for the availability of these winter produce items.
The largest citrus fruit, pomelos have flesh that ranges from light yellow to pink and tastes like sweet grapefruit without the assertive bitter edge. Pomelos are so similar to grapefruit that you could swap the two in your favorite recipes calling for this bright citrus fruit. Fans of lemons will love a twist on the classic lemon bar with our recipe for pomelo margarita bars. A pinch of salt and an optional splash of tequila play well with the sweetness of pomelo, reminding you that summer happy hours are only a few months away.
Raw quince (pronounced like "prince" with a Q) has a gritty texture and an astringent flavor, so they're definitely not a fruit you'd go picking and taking a bite out of straight from the tree. Once cooked though, quince flavor falls between an apple and a pear—clearly, much more appealing. Similarly, a ripe quince looks like a cross between an apple and a pearso they're an easy swap for your stuffed baked apple recipes. The tough, woody texture you'll experience while cutting a raw quince will drastically change after simmering in wine or caramelizing with butter. The yellow color of its raw form turns a rose-tinted hue when cooked, and the texture morphs from tough and woody to soft. Since cut quince oxidizes quickly, we like to quickly pickle quince wedges to prevent browning and serve them in a spiced rice dish.
Nope, those aren't underripe tomatoes, they're persimmons! Persimmons have a floral sweetness and a creamy texture similar to pears. There are two types commonly found in stores during winter months: Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu are small, flat-bottomed orange fruits (like the photo above) that are flavorful even when firm—unlike Hachiya, which must be fully soft and ripe before eating. Hachiyas look similar to Fuyu but are generally more oblong with a deeper orange color. If you love fruit in your salad recipes, Fuyu persimmons are about to become your new favorite salad addition. They’re subtly sweet to complement bitter greens and rich ingredients (like walnuts and Manchego) and firm enough to hold their shape when tossed. While the Fuyu variety holds its shape well and can be eaten raw like an apple, Hachiya persimmons taste best when ripened to a spoonable, custard-like texture.
Prized for their ruby arils (seeds), fresh pomegranates are antioxidant-rich and high in fiber and folate. Look for smooth, shiny skin. Enjoy the harvested seeds as a snack or a topping for salads, or drink the juice for a dose of vitamins C and K. Fortunately, pomegranates store very well, so you can stock up knowing they won't spoil when kept in a cool, dark place (like your refrigerator) for up to one or two months.
Hearty Sunday staples like pot roast can get a seasonal upgrade by swapping in persimmons for traditional potatoes, while tangy-sweet pomegranate seeds transform the braising liquid. Subbing these vibrant winter fruits in your holiday menus is easy. Whether in sweet or savory form, these winter fruits can be kept on hand to add a burst of flavor to all sorts of winter dishes.