The Uniq Fruit is a hybrid cross of a mandarin, a grapefruit and an orange. It tries to be round, but ends up with a strange pear shape. At best, the fruit is unattractive to look at. The coarse skin is sometimes a light orange colour, sometimes a greenish-yellow, but it is always thick, baggy, leathery and blemished.
Despite the thick skin, it peels easily. Inside the fruit is yellow-orange, and tastes like something in between a tangerine and a sweet orange. The core is hollow, with very few seeds. Uniq Fruits can be big; the ones grown in Jamaica can weigh up to 2 pounds (900g.)
People have tried growing it in South Africa and New Zealand, but in those more temperate climates it hasn’t turned out as sweet. Uniq Fruit has been successfully grown in Cuba, with some exports going to France.
When buying, don’t look for tight, unwrinkled skin as you would other fruit. Instead, check the stem end: it should have no signs of drying out, and the fruit should be slightly firm.
Flavour dissipates when cooked; better eaten raw.
Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks, or at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Uniq Fruit seems to be new at the supermarkets, but it’s been around for some time. It was a chance hybrid discovered in 1917 by G.G.R. Sharp, who worked for Cabel Hall Citrus Ltd. He encouraged it, and Cabel Hall was exporting to Canada and the UK by 1934, and to New York by 1942.
A possible urban myth has it that a shopper in a Canadian produce market said something to the effect of “boy, that fruit is ugly.”
The exporter at the time, Cabel Hall Citrus Ltd. from Jamaica, must have had a sense of humour, as they copyrighted and trademarked the name — Ugli®. They sell them as Ugli® Tangelos, shipping them from Trout Hall in Kingston, Jamaica to one licenced importer per country.
Because the Ugli® name is trademarked, other exporters are using the name Uniq.