Ugli Fruit: Description, Flavor, Benefits, And Uses

Ugli fruit is a hybrid citrus fruit native to Jamaica. It was first discovered growing wild in the Jamaican hills and has since become a popular citrus crop in the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, and Central America. The name “ugli” is derived from its wrinkled appearance. Ugli fruit trees are also known as tangelo or uniq fruit trees due to their unique flavor profile that combines tartness with sweetness. Here is everything you wanted to know about Ugli Fruit.

What is Ugli fruit?

Ugli fruit is a citrus hybrid that originated in Jamaica and is known for its unique flavor and texture. The fruit has rough, bumpy skin with yellow-green to bright orange coloring. It is typically larger than a grapefruit but smaller than an orange and has a sour-sweet taste similar to both fruits.

As well as being eaten fresh, Ugli fruit can be used in juices, jams, marmalades, salad dressings, and more. It’s also popularly blended into smoothies or made into sorbet. Additionally, Ugli fruit is high in Vitamin C and potassium, making it a nutritious snack or addition to any meal. Add Ugli fruit slices to your next breakfast bowl or lunch salad for flavor and nutrition. 

Ugli Fruit Description

History and Origin of Ugli Fruit:

Ugli fruit is native to Jamaica and has been cultivated for centuries. The exact origin of the fruit is unclear, but it is thought to have originated from a cross between an orange and a tangerine. It was first introduced outside of Jamaica in 1924 by Harold Moore, who owned a citrus nursery in England. He named it “Ugli,” after its unattractive appearance.

The Ugli fruit quickly gained popularity because of its unique taste and ease of peeling. Its flesh is juicy and sweet-tart with a hint of grapefruit flavor. Over time, Ugli trees were grown in other regions worldwide, including Cuba, Florida, Mexico, and California.

Today, Ugli fruit is still widely available in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, and certain regions of North and South America. It is also found in grocery stores across the United States. Ugli fruit has become popular in many recipes, such as smoothies, cakes, salads, and sauces. Its flavor pairs well with citrus fruits like oranges and lemons for a refreshing taste.

Description of Ugli Fruit:

The ugli fruit is typically round or oval-shaped and can measure up to 8 inches in diameter. Its skin is yellow to orange-yellow and very thick (up to 1/2 inch), making it difficult to peel without cutting into segments. Its flesh is tart and juicy, with a unique flavor profile that is neither sweet nor sour. The pulp contains many seeds, which are edible but typically discarded when consumed.

Flavor Profile of the Ugli Fruit:

The Ugli fruit has a unique flavor profile similar to a blend of sweet and tart. It has a soft, juicy texture with undertones of citrus and pineapple. The sweetness levels vary depending on how ripe the fruit is; some have been known to be very sweet, while others are more tart. The taste can also vary from region to region, so it’s best to try it if you can find one near you. Overall, the Ugli fruit is an enjoyable snack that has a unique flavor unlike any other.

Health Benefits of the Ugli Fruit:

The Ugli fruit is packed with nutrients and health benefits, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to get their daily dose of vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of Vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and can help protect against colds and other illnesses. It also contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, which helps regulate digestion and keep you feeling full longer. The Ugli fruit’s high water content makes it a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Additionally, it contains small amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and folate – all essential minerals in promoting overall health. Finally, the Ugli fruit has antioxidant properties that can help fight inflammation caused by free radicals in the body. The Ugli fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that can help you stay healthy and feel your best! This is why it’s a great addition to any diet. Add it to salads and smoothies, or eat it as a snack! It tastes delicious and will provide you with some great health benefits.

Cultivation of the Ugli Fruit: 

The Ugli fruit requires very little maintenance and can be grown in a variety of soil types. It thrives best in loamy soils with good drainage but will grow well in neutral to slightly acidic soils. The pH should range between 6.0-7.5 for optimal growth. In tropical climates, the tree blossoms throughout spring and bears fruit during summer and fall when temperatures are warmest. When growing an ugli tree, adequate space is important for proper sun exposure and air circulation, which will help to prevent disease and pest infestation.

Pruning is essential for keeping the tree healthy, as it encourages new growth and helps to open up the canopy of foliage for better light penetration. A mature plant should receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Watering should be done regularly. However, the tree is drought-tolerant and can withstand periods of dry weather.

Regular fertilization is necessary for optimal fruit production; use a balanced fertilizer with an actual nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio. Once fully mature after three to five years, the Ugli tree will bear large clusters of round fruits that measure up to 8 cm in diameter. The skin color ranges from light green to yellowish-orange when ripe and has a uniquely bumpy texture. Inside the thick rind lies a juicy pulp and several edible seeds that should not be consumed in large amounts due to their bitter taste.

Harvesting of the Ugli Fruit:

Ugli fruit is harvested when it reaches a size of 5 to 7 cm in diameter. It should feel soft and not too hard. When harvesting, ensure the stem does not break off, as it can cause the fruit to rot quickly. Harvesting should be done cautiously as the skin can easily bruise or puncture if handled roughly.

The fruits are picked from trees while still on the branch and placed into crates for transport. Care should be taken to prevent bruising or damage during harvesting, packing, and shipping. After harvesting, Ugli fruits can last up to two weeks when stored at room temperature and refrigerated for up to one month.

Where Does Ugli Fruit Grow? 

Ugli fruit is mainly grown in the tropical and subtropical regions of Central America, Mexico, South Florida, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. The main concentration for commercial production of Ugli fruit is in Jamaica, an important crop for many generations. 

Ugli fruit is also found throughout the West Indies in countries such as Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, and Grenada. It can be seen growing wild along roadsides and fields all over the islands. 

Other countries that grow Ugli fruit include Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Honduras. In some areas of India, it is grown as a garden plant or in pots on balconies in cities like Mumbai. There have also been reports of sightings from as far away as Africa and Australia. 

Ugli fruit can be successfully cultivated in warm climates where temperatures never drop below 10°C (50°F). This means it is unsuitable for temperate areas such as the United States, Canada, or Europe. However, some reports have been of people growing Ugli fruit outdoors with frost protection in parts of California and Florida. It can also be grown indoors in containers with the correct care and attention. In summary, tropical or subtropical regions are best suited for growing Ugli fruit.

What are the things you need to keep in mind when buying Ugli Fruit?

  1. Check for ripeness: When ripe, Ugli fruit should be slightly soft to the touch, with a fragrant aroma.
  2. Look for blemishes and spots: The ugli fruit should be relatively free of spots or blemishes; any visible signs of decay can affect its taste.
  3. Smell it: A ripe ugli fruit has a distinct sweet-tart fragrance that is hard to miss.
  4. Taste it: The flavor of ugli fruit is sweet and tart, with hints of citrus notes like lemon or grapefruit. If it tastes sour or bitter, it may not be ripe yet and will need more time on the counter before eating.
  5. Avoid overripe fruits: An overly soft ugli fruit may be past its prime and could have an off-taste. Choose one that feels slightly firm but still gives way when lightly pressed with a finger.

What are the places where the best quality Ugli Fruit can be brought? 

The best quality Ugli Fruit can be found in specialty stores, farmers’ markets, and online. Some of the larger supermarkets may also carry it during certain times of the year. If you are looking for top-quality Ugli fruit, your best bet is to visit a local farmers market or specialty store specializing in tropical fruits. Online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy often have good selections of Ugli Fruit.

You may also want to contact local importers or growers in your area to see if they have any fresh oranges available. Finally, you could even grow some plants if you have a sunny spot outdoors! With proper care and dedication, you could soon be feasting on delicious Ugli fruit all year round.

What is the Best Way to Store Ugli Fruit?

The best way to store Ugli Fruit is in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Store the fruit at room temperature and away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Keep the fruit in a single layer to get air on all sides if possible. The ideal humidity for storing Ugli Fruit is between 50-70%. It’s important to check your fruit regularly for any signs of spoilage, such as soft spots, mold, or an off smell. Remove any spoilt fruits immediately to prevent contamination of other stored fruits. Storing your Ugli Fruit properly will help you enjoy its sweet taste and bright citrus flavor while it lasts.

If you won’t consume the fruit within a few days, freezing Ugli Fruit for later enjoyment is sensible. To do this properly:

  1. Wash the fruit with cold water and then pat it dry with a paper towel.
  2. Slice or chop the fruit as desired, and then place it into an airtight container or freezer bag.
  3. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it shut.
  4. When freezing your fruits, label each one clearly and include the date of freezing so you know how long they have been stored for.
  5. Frozen Ugli Fruit can last up to 8 months in the freezer. 

How to use Ugli Fruit in Recipes with others?

Ugli Fruit can be a great addition to recipes that involve other fruits. It has a tangy flavor and unique texture that adds an interesting complexity to dishes. You can add Ugli Fruit to smoothies, salads, sauces, jams, pies, crumbles, salsa, or even just fresh in slices with some honey or a squeeze of lime juice. 

For example, you could add Ugli Fruit to a tropical fruit salad with mangoes, pineapple, and bananas for a bright and flavorful dish. Or you could make a berry-Ugli crumble for dessert using blackberries and raspberries and the Ugli Fruit for added zing. There are endless possibilities! Be creative and see what delicious combinations you can come up with. 

You can also use Ugli Fruit to add flavor and nutrition to savory dishes. Try adding it to a salad of roasted vegetables or as an ingredient in stir-fries. Ugli Fruit pairs well with proteins like chicken, fish, and tofu. You could also create sauces using diced Ugli Fruit for extra zest. The possibilities are endless – use your imagination and let the flavors guide you. Have fun experimenting with Ugli Fruit in the kitchen, and enjoy all the delicious creations you come up with. 


Ugli Fruit is a unique and delicious citrus fruit that can be used in sweet and savory recipes. It has a tart flavor and juicy texture, making it an excellent dish addition. From smoothies to salads, jams to pies, Ugli Fruit adds an extra kick of flavor you won’t find anywhere else! So why give it a try for yourself? You’ll be sure to love the results. 

Happy cooking! 🙂

Mitch Baylis