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Dekopons: The secret to picking a great one?

February 25, 2013|By Russ Parsons
  • In a small sample of Dekopons, ones like these, with rough skin and very pronounced "nipples" at the stem end, tasted better than ones with smooth skins.
In a small sample of Dekopons, ones like these, with rough skin and very pronounced… (Russ Parsons / Los Angeles…)

Dekopons, the so-called Sumo mandarins, have hit the market in a big way this year. There was a scattering of them available last year, but now, for the first time, they are in pretty wide circulation.

You can find almost everything you need to know about them in David Karp’s stories over the last couple of years. The guy who knows more about fruit than anyone should says Dekopons are the most delicious citrus he’s ever tasted.

But I’ve been hearing lots of reports of pretty extreme variation in quality this year. What could be going on?

Then when I was checking them out at the grocery store this morning, I noticed that some of the Sumos looked different from others. While most had extremely rough skin and very pronounced “nipples” at the stem end – almost like a tangelo – others were smooth-skinned with almost no nipple at all.

Could that be the difference? I picked up some of each to try. And, sure enough, while the smooth-skinned Sumos were quite good, they were also quite acidic. The rough-skinned Sumos had a much deeper, richer flavor. Granted, it’s a limited sample size, but could the smooth-skinned Sumos have been picked a little early?

The thing I find most remarkable about all Dekopons, though, is the texture, which is silky in the extreme. This is one sensuous citrus.

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