Rainbow Of Fruit

Don't judge a lemon by its skin tone.

Mark Ferri

What color is an orange?" seems an obvious enough question. It's orange, as surely as a strawberry is red. But nature delights in anomaly, and recently a cornucopia of strangely colored fruits, both new and rediscovered, have begun to appear on the market.

The most spectacular of these oddities are apples with flesh ranging from mottled pink to solid crimson. These are colored by anthocyanin pigments like those found in apple skins, cherries, and plums—substances that can impart rich aroma and berrylike flavor. Early this century, an eccentric visionary named Albert Etter crossed red-fleshed apples originally from Central Asia with regular varieties to produce dessert-quality all-red fruit. It didn't catch on—but Ram Fishman, a nurseryman in Garberville, California, has revived Etter's treasures, and several West Coast growers have planted small orchards of them.

Pink-fleshed cara cara navel oranges, developed from a Venezuelan mutation, are pigmented by lycopenes, related to the substances that color pink grapefruits. While crops harvested from young Florida trees are more distinctive in appearance than in taste, production from mature trees there and in California promises tangier fruit. Other pink citrus include the sarah orange, a variant of the jaffa, and variegated lemons, with striped rinds and rosy flesh (the inspiration for pink lemonade).

Although many stone fruits are tinged with red near the pit, indian blood peaches are red throughout, and luscious when picked ripe. Delicate white nectarines, ambrosially fragrant and juicy, are increasingly popular. Incredibly sweet white apricots, rare in America, are common in the Middle East, and beginning to appear in Spain and France.

Fragile albino wild strawberries, exquisitely perfumed and less acidic than the red ones, are well worth searching for—however gold and yellow raspberries and white currants are but pallid versions of their red and black kin.