It’s UGLI – But is it Tasty? Your Guide to Ugli/Uniq Fruit

I’ve heard of UGLI fruit but never seen or tasted one before so I was very happy to spot one while on my way around Sainsbury’s yesterday. It was a pound but I splashed out.

Its appearance surprised me. So much, I have decided we need a campaign. Stop body bashing the UGLI fruit.

But, I had questions and so I needed to know what the heck is an Ugli fruit – and is it good for you?

ugli fruit with the top cut off

What is an UGLI Fruit?

It’s basically like an orange with a bit thicker skin and a few green bits and I think it’s being unfairly picked on for its looks.

Now, I’m aware that UGLI is a trademark of the Jamaican company that distributes them (which is why it’s spelt like that and not called an Ugly fruit), but I was expecting at least a few nobbly bits to earn it the moniker.

Still, I wasn’t eating its skin, I was eating the middle bit.

The little label at Sainsbury’s had described it as a cross between an orange and a grapefruit.

In actuality, it’s cross between grapefruit, orange and a tangerine which I’d never had guessed as it, erm, tasted exactly like an orange!

I’m not sure if I got a duff one or what but if you’d given me a blind taste test between the UGLI and an orange I wouldn’t have been able to tell any difference.

Interestingly though, unlike most cross-bred fruits, no scientists were involved in its creation.

The first UGLI fruit was found growing wild in Jamaica over eighty years ago. It’s been tweaked a little bit by growers over the year to refine the taste but originally, it was just a happy accident.

Ugli fruit cut in half to show the inside

UGLI Fruit Nutrition

When it comes to nutrition a whole fruit contains about 90 calories and 140% of your daily vitamin C.

It also has four grams of fibre.

How Do You Pronounce UGLI?

Surprise – it’s not how you think. In Jamaica, where the fruit originates, it’s apparently pronounced oogli.

You might also find it sold as Uniq fruit. As I said, UGLI Fruit is a trademark and as such only fruits grown on the original farm can use the name. If it comes from another farm, you’ll see it called Uniq Fruit.

How to Eat UGLI Fruit?

Easily! One of the main selling points of the UGLI Fruit is that it has a thicker skin than most other citrus – this makes it easier to peel and segment than normal oranges.

I hate sticky fruit so for that and that alone, it was a winner for me.

All you need do to eat an UGLI/uniq fruit, therefore, is peel off the outer skin and eat the fruit inside.

You can also cut them in half and eat them with a spoon like a grapefruit.

Not surprisingly, they work well in dishes like fruit salad, but, because they aren’t sticky they also work well in vegetable-based salads too. You might want to try it tossed with a bed of rocket and cucumber, avocado and prawns. Add some balsamic or ranch dressing and you’re good to go.

It also works well as a replacement for pineapple in sweet and sour style dishes or stir-fries (not sure if you want to try it on pizza)! You’ll find some innovative UGLI fruit recipes on the UGLI website. 

Ugli fruit with a green skin and bright orange centre

How to Pick a Good UGLI Fruit

The lopsided, nobbly nature of the skin of an UGLI fruit bears no relationship to how fresh it is, or how it’s going to taste so don’t judge a book by its cover.

You’ll also find them with different coloured skin – the one I had was mostly orange with a green tinge in places, but you will find them with a totally green skin.

This doesn’t mean it’s not ripe, it’s just a different coloured version.

Apparently, the smaller fruits are sweeter – and the heavier the fruit for its size the better it is. Taste also changes throughout the year – they are often sharper around December/January.

So there you have it. So, are you more likely to try an UGLI fruit now you know that it’s sweet and non-messy? Do you have any great ideas on how to use them? Let me know in the comments if you do.

If you’re also looking for some other interesting fruits you might not have tried yet, check out this guide to some of the healthiest South American fruits on offer. 

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