Friday, November 29, 2019

What's a Tiki Drink....and Why do Tiki Lovers Love White Grapefruit?

I was recently lucky enough to enjoy a relaxing getaway to beautiful Jupiter Island, FL. One night, we stopped in at the Square Grouper, a legendary tiki/beach bar. It sits by the water, serves fabulous fruity drinks under giant palm trees, and is pretty much everything you’d ever wanted from a tropical Florida getaway.

I’m normally more of a beer and wine drinker. But that night, I ordered a fruity, citrus-based tiki-style cocktail. When in Rome, do as the Romans do—and when at a Florida tiki bar, order tiki drinks!

What’s a Tiki Bar?

“Thatch Tiki Bar”  (c) 2008 ryan harvey, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Tiki bars (which are not the same as beach bars) never really went out of style in Florida. But if you live in the rest of the country, you may not know what this quirky tradition is all about. 

Tiki has many elements, but it typically features tropical plants and gardens, a “woodsy,” yet colorful look, tiki (Polynesian humanoid) carvings, tropical-style music (sometimes with live performers or a Polynesian theme), and of course, very elaborate tiki cocktails.

In truth, "tiki" isn’t fully authentic to any one country. While it has elements of Polynesian culture, it’s also kind of a romanticized American invention. The two (American) bars that started it all were Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s. Both these classic tiki bars eventually became large chains that spread all over the world.

Tiki Cocktails

So, what makes a cocktail “tiki”? Usually there are lots of ingredients, plenty of rum, spiced syrups, and tropical juices and fruits. Tiki drinks also almost always use citrus juices, like orange, lime, lemon, and grapefruit. They’re often served in fancy “tiki” mugs and include fun garnishes, like little umbrellas or flowers. Some drinks are big enough to share.

Popular Tiki Drinks

While the list of tiki drinks goes on and on, here are a few that are especially popular. Recipes are often “secret,” so opinions differ on what exactly to include. However, the main elements usually stay the same.

The Rum Runner has quite a long list of ingredients, including (of course) rum, orange juice, lime juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, banana liqueur and blackberry liqueur.

The Navy Grog plays to the tradition of “drinking citrus in the navy to prevent scurvy.” It always includes rum, lime juice, and white grapefruit juice.

The Scorpion is a strong drink that includes gin, rum, brandy, wine, orange juice, lemon juice, and orgeat, an almond syrup.

The Zombie may feature rum, white grapefruit juice, cinnamon, lime juice, lemon juice, orange curacao, grenadine, falernum, and/or bitters. 

The Mai Tai calls for rum, lime juice, almond syrup, and mint.

The Magic of White Grapefruit

 Authentic tiki recipes typically date back to the 1950s or even earlier-- before today's very sweet pink and red grapefruit were introduced. What this means is that tiki drink recipes were written to match the tarter, fuller, brighter flavor profile of white grapefruit.  It's just the perfect choice for these classic recipes, and goes especially well with warm spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Yet white grapefruit can be hard to find these days. So lovers of authentic tiki cocktails are often a little frustrated in their quest to to buy white grapefruit for tiki drinks. In fact, many web posts on tiki drink forums feature tiki lovers wondering where to find white grapefruit. We’re happy to help here at Florida Fruit!

Florida Tiki

Want to enjoy some tiki culture yourself? A search for tiki bars in Florida yields hundreds of enticing options, from Jacksonville to (of course) the Keys. If you live in or visit the state and have never visited one of these tropical getaways, you owe it to yourself to check one out. Choose one by the water, and go at sunset. As the palm fronds wave overhead and you enjoy a delicious beverage, alcoholic or not, you’ll likely enjoy some feelings of well-being and relaxation…perhaps even a slight sense of time travel. 

Of course, if you can’t get to a tiki bar, that’s okay! Pick up some of these ingredients and enjoy concocting one of these delicious beverages at home.

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Citrus Myths and Facts

Oranges and other citrus fruit are so beautiful and delicious, it’s no wonder they’ve traveled the globe and become popular just about everywhere. As we’ve seen elsewhere on this blog, citrus is meaningful in religion and in art, and it is included in delicious dishes in cuisines worldwide. After all, we’ve been enjoying oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and other citrus since the 1500s! 

With all these uses, and such a long history, it’s no wonder that some myths have “grown up” around oranges and citrus over time. You might even believe a few yourself. Today, we’ll test your knowledge of citrus truths and myths. How many will surprise you?

Myth or fact: You can tell whether an orange is ripe by how orange it is.


Myth. The orange color of…oranges (and other citrus) is actually caused by cool temperatures, not by fruit becoming ripe. In fact, in warmer areas, citrus may become fully mature without turning orange at all!

Myth or fact: Grapefruit is better for you than other citrus.


Myth. Grapefruits do have this reputation, but they probably aren't better for you than other citrus. Though they have a few less calories, the difference really isn’t significant. They have a bit less vitamin C than other citrus, though they pack more vitamin A. Enjoy the citrus you prefer!

Myth or fact: Oranges are native to Florida.


Myth! As much as we Floridians might like to claim oranges as our own, they are believed to have originated in Asia (though, honestly, nobody is quite sure about this). Citrus was first brought to Florida by Spaniards in the 1500s, and, well, the rest is history.

Myth or fact: Citrus fights colds.


Mixture. Science tells us that vitamin C may be slightly helpful in fighting colds or decreasing their length a bit. The effect isn’t dramatic, but upping your citrus consumption can’t hurt!

Myth or fact: British sailors are called “limeys” because of all the limes they ate.


Fact. I didn’t know this until I researched the long and strange history of scurvy, otherwise known as vitamin C deficiency. Today, vitamin C deficiency is fortunately very rare (thanks to our relatively healthy diets). But back in the bad old days, millions of sailors died due to the very restricted diets they ate at sea. When the “cure” was finally discovered, bottled lime juice was kept on board to head off the illness. Hence, “limeys.”

Myth or fact: Citrus might help you live longer.


Fact!  Scientists have found that people who regularly include citrus like oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines in their diet are less likely to get cancer. This may be because of the vitamin C. Or it could be due to other compounds found in citrus, such as antioxidants.

Myth or fact: Grapefruit helps you lose weight.


Mixture. The so-called grapefruit diet dates back to the 1930s. Followers are supposed to eat half a grapefruit and/or drink a glass of grapefruit juice with every meal. Meanwhile, fat will “melt away.”

Scientists have yet to find any magical “fat burning” ingredient in these delicious citrus fruits. However, in a 12-week study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, people who ate grapefruit or drank grapefruit juice several times a day did lose an average of about 3 pounds, with some participants losing much more. It’s possible that grapefruit’s high water and fiber content may make people feel full, causing them to eat less at meals.

Myth or fact: The “navel” on a navel orange is another baby orange.


Fact! The sweet navel orange that we all enjoy has a tiny underdeveloped “twin” orange at the end of each fruit. That’s not on purpose; it’s just the way the variety, a spontaneous mutation, appeared in the wild. Because the navel is seedless, it has to be propagated through grafting.

We hope you learned something from our citrus facts and myths. There’s always something new to find out about these amazing fruits. Happy snacking!

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Why Oranges at Half Time?

Fweet! The whistle blows, the hot and tired soccer players come off the field, and a coach or parent hands them out: juicy, refreshing halftime orange slices. Ah! That’s better.

If you have a child who plays soccer, or if you grew up playing soccer yourself, you’ve probably seen this halftime orange snack many times. But have you ever asked yourself where the tradition comes from?

It seems that orange-eating at soccer games actually got its start in England. There, the tradition of eating oranges at the half-time mark during a game of “footy” goes back to at least the 1950s. In fact, when the Queen of England herself hosted a soccer game in her back garden in 2013, footmen in long tailcoats offered orange slices on silver trays. We bet you’ve never experienced that!

Eventually, as soccer became more popular in the U.S., the practice spread. But what makes sliced oranges such a great soccer snack?

Oranges are hydrating

It’s really easy to get dehydrated when you’re sprinting around chasing that ball! Fortunately, oranges are 87% water, so those juicy-sweet sections help replenish some of what gets lost when we exercise.

Oranges are convenient and fast to eat

A seedless, juicy “orange smile” is super quick to grab and disappears just as fast. Check out this great and easy way to slice oranges for halftimeNavels are a perfect choice.

Oranges are high in carbohydrates, but not in calories

Oranges contain natural carbs that give energy, but they’re low-calorie and won’t weight players down and make it hard to run around.

Oranges don’t spike and crash players’ blood sugar

Oranges may taste sweet, but they have a low glycemic index of 40. This means that they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike up suddenly and then bottom out, like processed sugary treats. Instead, they’ll deliver energy gradually and evenly…perfect for sports.

Keep the Healthy Half Time Going!

Juicy sliced oranges from Florida Fruit Shippers

Unfortunately, as many parents of athletes know, the healthy choice of oranges isn’t always what we see on the fields anymore. Too often, chips, crackers, and even candy bars, cookies, and donuts are showing up on the sidelines instead.

Of course, kids gobble these up, but remember: it’s easy to take in a lot of calories when we eat snacks like these after exercise. Also, while high-sugar snacks are okay in moderation, they shouldn’t be a common thing for anybody.

By the way, don't forget that along with those oranges, it’s best to stick to water to drink. Marketers may push sports drinks, but they’re usually not needed. Experts agree that unless kids are playing in very high heat or working out for a really long time,  sugary drinks are unnecessary.

Kids really love sliced fruit. Research shows that the simple act of cutting fruit up makes kids much, much more likely to eat it! On a hot day, when you’ve just been out there giving your all, a plate of bright, juicy oranges is the perfect choice.

“Orange” you glad you brought the oranges?

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Are Oranges High in Sugar?

A naturally sweet slice of orange
Sometimes, the moment is right for an elaborately prepared, rich meal. At others, what hits the spot is a hot, salty snack, or a sweet, luscious dessert.

But, really, is there anything more purely, naturally delicious than fresh fruit at its absolute peak? We’re not talking about some anemic, grocery-store fruit, but a piece of juicy, prime fruit, like our perfect Tangerines. Not only is it delectable, but we also know that we’re eating something that’s healthy for us.

But have you run into anyone lately who is trying a special diet that restricts carbs, or is even limiting fruit? Perhaps you’ve wondered about the sugar or carb content of oranges and other citrus fruit, or have been puzzled about the difference between fructose in fruit and as an added ingredient.

Let’s answer these questions.

What kind of sugar is in oranges?

The sugar in oranges (and other fruits) is fructose, a natural fruit sugar. This is not the same as processed, refined sugar that is added to foods like cookies, soda, and so on. Fructose is a natural part of the fruit.

Is fructose in fruit bad for you?

Unprocessed fructose that occurs naturally in whole foods, like fruit, is very different from added fructose in processed forms, like high-fructose corn syrup. It is just fine for us to eat! Nutritionists have no concerns about natural fructose we eat in fresh, whole, nutritious fruit.

Are oranges high in sugar? What about tangerines and grapefruit?

Oranges are low- to medium-sugar fruits.

  • One medium-sized orange contains about 12 grams of sugar and 15 grams of carbs.
  • One medium-sized tangerine contains about 9 grams of sugar and 11 grams of carbs.
  • Half a grapefruit contains about 9 grams of sugar and 10 grams of carbs.

What is the glycemic index of oranges?

Oranges have a low glycemic index of 40. This means that eating oranges does not cause your blood sugar to shoot up and then crash. Although oranges and other citrus taste sweet, they contain plenty of healthful fiber as well. Their natural sweetness takes a while to absorb, so we don’t get a sugar rush from eating them.

Because oranges have a low GI, they are a great choice for diabetics!

What are some other low-sugar fruits?

Berries, melon, and peaches are also lower in sugar, while apples, grapes, mangoes, figs and pineapple are somewhat higher.

But remember! None of this should be a concern unless you are diabetic, counting carbs, or on a special diet. In any case, most of these diets will allow fruit…especially lower-sugar ones like oranges.

Delicious and nutritious citrus salad
Fruits like oranges are really, really good for us in so many ways. Fruit contains fiber, vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, all of which promote good health and may prevent chronic illness and cancer. In particular, citrus is high in folate and potassium, making it a great choice for families.

Enjoy the natural sweetness of oranges without worries about sugar.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

5 Exotic Citrus Recipes You’ve Never Heard Of

Have you ever dreamed of traveling the globe? Want to visit South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa? Would you enjoy getting a warm welcome in every country of the world? Then we have some advice for you.

Try becoming an orange.

Yes, it’s true—oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and other citrus are shipped around all around planet Earth, and beloved absolutely everywhere. What’s more, they have a long and fascinating culinary history across cuisines.

While the first citrus trees are thought to have originated in China, bitter oranges spread to Italy and Spain way back in the 10th century. The sweet orange became popular in the 16th century, around the time when citrus was introduced to the new world. Soon citrus was being planted on trade routes around the globe.

This ensured a worldwide spread of these delicious fruits. Cultures around the world have been making citrus a part of their native cuisine for centuries!

While you’ve probably heard of some such dishes, like duck with orange sauce, today we wanted to dig a little deeper. Read on for some authentic citrus recipes from around the world that we think you may not know about.

Guyanese Pepperpot

Though located in South America, the country of Guyana is often considered culturally Caribbean. Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese meat stew in spiced gravy, typically contains a significant amount of orange peel. It is interesting to me that pepperpot is traditionally eaten on Christmas, since citrus-flavored food is associated with that holiday in other countries as well. Here is a recipe for this intriguing dish.

Moroccan Orange and Cinnamon Dessert Salad

The North African country of Morocco grows a lot of oranges (said to be some of the best in the region) and its cuisine features many orange dishes. The combination of oranges, cinnamon, and orange blossom water is a traditional dessert in this cuisine. By the way, in Morocco, orange flower water is a symbol of good luck.

Costa Rican Orange Pudding

This simple thick orange pudding seems like an obvious idea, but I’ve never been served anything like it in this country—have you? It is traditional in the small Central American nation of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a grower of oranges, and the county also enjoys orange flavors in pound cakes and raisin cakes. 

Persian Jeweled Rice (Jahaver Polow)

This stunningly beautiful and fragrant rice dish from the Middle Eastern country of Iran is known as “jeweled” rice. It’s often served at weddings, parties, and other festive events. Jahaver Polow features many nuts and fruits, including an abundance of candied orange peel (a central flavor in the dish). It would make a gorgeous addition to a holiday table. 

Tangerine Beef

When you think of citrus flavors and Chinese food, you may think of orange chicken, a sweet, deep-fried dish that can be a bit of a guilty pleasure for many of us. However, that dish is pretty Americanized and is not likely be found in mainland China. But this is not to say that citrus isn’t used in authentic Chinese cooking. One common recipe is Tangerine Beef, which used dried tangerine peel and features some of the same sweet and aromatic flavors as orange chicken. Here’s a recipe that American kitchens should be able to prepare.

If there’s one thing we know at Florida Fruit Shippers, it’s that you will never run out of new, fascinating, and delicious recipes to prepare with Florida citrus. Centuries of inventive cooks who came before us have ensured it! Of course, you can also just enjoy our fresh, juicy citrus straight out of the box. It’s honey tangerine season right now, and the fruit couldn’t be sweeter. Why not order a box today? Or, for a limited time, enjoy free shipping on our Spring Trio--Temple oranges, honey tangerines, and sweet ruby-red Grapefruit.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Soothe Your Cold with Fresh Florida Citrus

I have two children in school. If you’re a parent, you know one thing that means: they’re constantly coming home with colds and other viruses.

While I love how my kids have enriched my world, this is not my favorite thing that they have “brought” to my life!

Like most of us, I sometimes turn to home remedies to try to soothe my cold symptoms and feel a bit better. And of course, I like to incorporate fresh, delicious Florida citrus when I do.

But does the vitamin C in citrus actually help prevent, cure, or shorten the common cold?

Well, this is a controversial question. Research has found that high doses of vitamin C may prevent colds in people with very strenuous and active lifestyles (marathoners, for instance).

It can also be helpful for people at higher risk of vitamin C deficiency. For instance, older adults and smokers fall into this category.

However, for more “average” people, it seems that increasing vitamin C probably doesn’t actually prevent colds.

But there is some good news. Increasing our vitamin C intake over the long term (like by eating delicious fresh oranges daily!) may slightly shorten the duration of the colds we get.

How much? about a day.

While this isn’t a huge difference, I personally will take it! Sounds like a good reason to increase citrus intake during winter!

Well, but what if you’re in the middle of a miserable cold and want some relief? Should you still try some citrus-based home remedies?

I think so! Most of them also involve heat (which helps soothe your throat and open things up), honey (which has antibiotic and antiviral properties), ginger (also antiviral) or other helpful ingredients. Sounds good, right?

Plus, they’re delicious and have stood the test of time. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go with it.

So, here are a few citrus-based cold and flu remedies and treats to try the next time you’re under the weather. They may just help—and they certainly won’t hurt.

Honey Citrus Syrup

This is a simple process of slicing oranges, tangerines, clementines or other citrus, heating honey, and mixing the two together with spices or herbs. The mixture is then kept refrigerated and can be used in teas or as a natural cough syrup.

Immune Booster

Nothing fancy here—just a fresh vitamin C blast. This drink is made from pureed grapefruit, oranges, and kiwis, another fruit that is very high in C. This one is even better for you than juice, because the whole fruit is included and all the fiber is still in the drink.

Cold Remedy Tea

Have you heard about the healing powers of turmeric? I was familiar with this spice through its use in Indian cooking, but it has recently gained popularity in healing circles due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. I’ve tried turmeric when suffering from a cold and felt it helped. I definitely enjoyed it most mixed with orange juice, ginger, and honey, as in this hot tea!

Fire Cider

Are you the type of person who believes that when it comes to curing a cold, the remedy needs to feel a bit…extreme? Check out this Fire Cider, made from horseradish, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, herbs, vinegar, and yes, fresh oranges and lemons. If it doesn’t cure you, it might at least keep other people from accidentally kissing you and getting sick!

Send Some Sunshine

Is someone you love feeling a bit under the weather? (Maybe that person is you!) Why not send them a beautiful fresh box, crate, or basket of fresh Florida oranges, tangerines, or grapefruit? Picked at the peak of ripeness and bursting with sunshiny vitamin C, this gift is bound to perk your sniffly friend or loved one up. Be a hero.

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Why Florida Citrus and Florida Seafood Are Perfect Together

Here in the beautiful sunshine state, we’re known for a few different things. Of course, vacations and are definitely one. Bright, abundant, warm sunshine is another.

Two more? Sweet, juicy, bright citrus, and fresh, delectable seafood.

The great news is that all of these things go together exceptionally well! But if you can’t make it down here for the vacation and sunshine, you can still enjoy the flavors of our citrus and seafood—no matter where you live and or what the temperature is outside.

Why it Works

Chefs and home cooks have been combining the bright acidity of citrus with seafood dishes for thousands of years. The time-honored combination is actually based on some hard science, as well as tradition.

Seafood contains amines, which are neutralized by the acidity of citrus. This can make the characteristic “fishy” taste a bit milder. However, the acidity of citrus also brings up the delicate flavor of seafood without overpowering it.

Florida’s talented professional and home chefs have come up with some absolutely spectacular dishes that showcase this classic combo. A great time to sample these dishes? Winter!

Winter’s the Time

If you didn’t already know it, citrus is at its peak in the heart of Northern winter. We don’t mean to gloat, we promise—but it’s just another thing that’s great about Florida.

There’s also plenty of Florida seafood to be had in winter. White shrimp, Key West Pink Shrimp, spiny lobster, and stone crabs are all in peak season during the fall and winter months, along with plenty of Florida finfish like amberjack, mullet, flounder, pompano, and grouper.

Of course, you’re not required to limit yourself to Florida-caught seafood when enjoying the combination of citrus and seafood (though we do happen to think that this is the perfect pair). Keeping your dish local like this also supports our economy, helping the American seafood and agriculture industries thrive.

Check out a few of these delicious dishes today!

Florida Grouper with Citrus Salad
This is a simple seared grouper filet served on a bed of fresh Florida oranges, grapefruit, fennel, and jicama. We can guarantee that it will taste fresh, luscious, and refreshing.

Herb and Butter Roasted Florida Spiny Lobster with Citrus and Olives
Never tried spiny lobster (also called rock lobster)? Like Maine lobster, the meat is sweet and succulent and should be purchased either live or frozen. Unlike Maine lobster, you don’t eat the claws—just the tail. Try this Florida delicacy today.

Orange Garlic Shrimp
Citrus and shrimp are a really classic combination, and for good reason. This Asian-themed orange garlic shrimp stir-fry is perfect for a fresh and healthy dinner.

Steamed Stone Crab Claws with Creamy Orange-Chile Sauce
Stone crabs are another special Florida treat that you really need to try at least once in your life. The meat, which comes only from the claws, is extremely delicate and sweet. This very simple recipe simply consists of steamed claw meat dipped in an orange-chile sauce.

Can’t get to Florida this winter? We’re sorry to hear it. But you can still get some of the feel of our beautiful winters by ordering a box or basket of our bright, cheerful, fresh, and healthy citrus. Try our oranges, grapefruit, or honeybells today.

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