Thursday, March 8, 2018

FAQs about Choosing, Eating, and Juicing Oranges

Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we get asked certain questions about our delicious oranges and citrus time and time again. We thought it would be fun and helpful to compile them into one FAQ. Have a juicy day!

You can figure out if an orange is ripe through the smell (sweet and fragrant) and feel (no soft spots and heavy for its size).

How can you tell if an orange is ripe and sweet?

Unlike many other types of fruit, oranges and other citrus do NOT continue to ripen after they are picked. In other words, they’d better be ripe when you buy them, because no further progress is going to occur! Fortunately, though, citrus is rarely sold significantly underripe. Some minor green color on the rind is not usually very significant and is probably more about the fruit having been exposed to warm weather. (In fact, did you know that in some parts of the world, oranges rarely turn “orange” at all?)

If you want to check on ripeness, though, smell and feel the fruit. It should be fairly soft (without having any overly soft spots) and have a sweet, fragrant aroma. An orange at its peak will be heavy for its size. A light, airy-feeling fruit is probably dry and past its peak.

Citrus isn't as perishable as some other fruits; it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks

How long does citrus keep?

Citrus can be stored at room temperature for about 3-5 days (sometimes longer, depending). They will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and sometimes more. One of the nice things about oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines is that they’re not nearly as perishable as some other fruits.

When is citrus season?

Many people tend to associate citrus with summer, maybe because of its refreshing flavor and the types of recipes we tend to make with it. However, citrus is more properly a cool-season crop grown in warmer climates, such as Florida. At Florida Fruit Shippers, we harvest our tangerines, oranges, and grapefruit from October through April, with the bulk coming ripe in the winter. 

Although Navel oranges are the most popular eating orange, there are plenty of delicious eating oranges.

What are the best eating oranges?

This is certainly a very hotly debated topic, but the most popular eating orange is the Navel, a sweet, juicy, seedless choice. However, there are plenty of other delicious eating oranges that people really love eating out of hand—for instance, the Temple, the tangelo, the Page, the Cara Cara, and more…not to mention all the wonderful kinds of tangerines.

What are the best juicing oranges?

Many people consider the Valencia to be the best juicing orange. These sweet, heavy oranges are thin-skinned, making them easy to juice. They’re a classic choice.

However, if you have access to other types of orange, you can try lesser known varieties like Hamlin oranges, Temples, Pages, or maybe blood orange, which make an exciting juice! Tangerines also make great juice.

You might be surprised to learn that Navels, a great eating fruit, aren’t a good choice for juicing if you don’t plan on drinking the juice right away. A compound in the flesh causes the juice to turn somewhat sour if it sits.
To get the most juice out of your citrus, gently roll it before you try to juice it!

What is the best way to juice an orange?

The first thing to know is that there are some tricks to get more juice out of any citrus. You can try rolling your oranges, tangerines, lemons or limes around on the counter while exerting some gentle pressure with the heels of your hands. Other suggest a brief spin in the microwave—about 10 seconds—to soften it up.

Next, you’re going to need a juicer! We’ve covered the question of finding the best citrus juicer on our blog before, so we won’t reinvent the wheel here. If you’re too impatient to read through that, the short version is that you can easily find a decent electric citrus juicer for under $20 these days, but you can spend up to $100 or more on a fancier electric or hand model that looks stunning on your counter.

How do you pick an orange off a tree?

If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh citrus trees, you might want to know the proper way to pick the fruit! The key is to twist. If you pull the fruit straight off, you may leave a bit of rind attached to the tree and opening on the peel. This isn’t a big deal if you’re going to eat the fruit right away, but if you’d like to store it, it can cause the fruit to go bad. Twist, then pull. (Our pickers have this down to science!)

As far as ripeness goes, color is one indication, but fruit can be orange before they’re fully ripe and sweet and may be greenish while ripe. So taste-test!

Got more questions about oranges and other citrus? Contact us today!

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Tangerines…But Were Afraid to Ask

Tangerines are technically mandarin oranges!

What is a tangerine?

This seemingly simple question does not have a simple answer! Scientifically speaking, “tangerine” is an inexact word. Generally, though, when we talk about tangerines, we’re talking about a fruit that is smaller than an orange, flatter at the top and bottom, and more reddish-orange in color.

Tangerines are usually sweeter than oranges, and their flavor is often considered richer, deeper, and stronger. They’re enjoyable to eat in part due to their thin, easy-peeling skin.

Botanically speaking, tangerines are a type of mandarin orange. Mandarin oranges originated in China (hence the name), while the fruit we now call tangerines first arrived in Europe in the 1800s. They were exported through the city of Tangiers in Morocco, which lent them their name. Tangerines were first grown in the United States near Palatka, Florida.

By the way, just to add to the tangerine confusion, growers and sellers may call various tangerine-orange or tangerine-orange-grapefruit hybrids “tangerines.”

What are some common tangerine varieties?

The Dancy tangerine used to be the main tangerine in the US, but it’s given way to the honey tangerine (technically a tangerine-orange hybrid), various types of Murcott, the Fallglo, and the Sunburst.

Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we sell three varieties of tangerines: the honey tangerine, a super-sweet little ball of honey sweetness, the Fallglo, a big, richly flavorful fruit, and the Robinson, a juicy, heritage variety that reminds us of the Page, one of the best eating fruit out there.

With a richer flavor and deep orange, tangerine juice is some of the best citrus juice out there.

What makes tangerines special?

Tangerines sometimes get just a little overshadowed by their bigger and more familiar cousin the orange, but that’s definitely a mistake. Their flavor is often considered richer than oranges by those in the know. Not only are they a great snack due to their smaller size, they actually make some of the best citrus juice out there. The color of tangerine juice is absolutely incredible—a deep, intense orange that leaves the paler hue of regular OJ looking anemic by comparison. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

When it comes to cooking, some examples of delicious tangerine recipes include Tangerine Beef, Rosemary-Tangerine Roasted Chicken, Spinach Salad with Honey-Tangerine Dressing, Tangerine Drizzle Cake, and Tangerine Pudding. Or why not try a tangy Tangerine Margarita?

What’s the difference between a tangerine and a clementine and a Cutie and a…?

Now this is another confusing topic. Tangerines, clementines, Cuties, and the other small citrus fruit you may have seen at your grocery store in bags or crates are all technically mandarin oranges. But did you know that Pixie, Cutie, Halo, and other similar new names are not actually fruit varieties? They are brand names. The small, seedless fruits you see marketed under these names may be clementines, Murcott mandarins, Tangos, or yet another kind of seedless mandarin, depending on the time of year.

Tangerines, clementines, Cuties, etc. are all technically mandarin oranges. 

Frankly, while these little “brand name” citrus are cute, their quality can be unpredictable. Sometimes they may be great; other times they can be dry, bland, or have off flavors. Why? Well, some of the varieties they use just taste better than others. Depending on the time of year, the fruit may also have experienced long shipping and storage times (some are grown outside the United States).

The tangerines we sell here at Florida Fruit Shippers are bigger than these “mini” mandarins. And it’s true that they will have some seeds. However, we think they are juicier, more deeply flavorful, and, of course, reliably fresh and sweet. Give them a try.


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Monday, February 5, 2018

10 New Ways to Enjoy Juicy-Sweet Ruby Red Grapefruit

In my family growing up, Christmas morning breakfast was a ritual. We always ate it off the “fancy” china, and we always had two things: a special homemade coffee cake, and fresh Florida grapefruit, halved, sectioned, and lightly sprinkled with sugar. Something about the juicy, tart-sweet fruit really set off the flavor of the rich cake.

The History of Grapefruit

Did you know that grapefruit is a hybrid of the orange and a fruit called the pommelo? It’s true. First seen in the Caribbean, the fruit was brought to Florida sometime in the early 1800s by an interesting character, Count Odet Philippe.

At first, grapefruit were either pale pink or white. Some varieties were extremely flavorful, but they all tended towards the more sour end of the spectrum. But in 1929, a new grapefruit mutation was discovered with red flesh and a much sweeter taste. This was the birth of the “Ruby Red” grapefruit, which soon became explosively popular due to its incredibly enjoyable and approachable flavor. Other delectably sweet and juicy “red” varieties have followed.

Grapefruit is certainly a delicious addition to the breakfast table. I love it because it’s absolutely never dry or bland, and always adds such a pop of juicy flavor to my day. But there’s a lot more to grapefruit than the halved fruit in a bowl that I enjoyed as a kid. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can bring a refreshing and sparkling zing to cocktails, appetizers, main dishes, salads, and desserts (along, of course, with breakfast).

One important but very easy thing to learn about grapefruit is the various ways to section and cut it for eating and cooking. We found a great tutorial showing 3 basic ways: halving and sectioning (basically, the “old-fashioned way” you probably know from childhood); removing beautiful sections from the peel and membrane using a knife, also called supreming; and a slightly more time-consuming method of removing the fruit from the membrane by hand. If you’re going to use grapefruit in a recipe, method #2, supreming, is probably the easiest and fastest.

Here are 10 ways to enjoy grapefruit that you probably haven’t tried before. Take a second look at this sometimes-underused fruit and see how sophisticated, luscious, and yes, sexy it can be.

Grapefruit Cocktails: Sweet and Sour

Have you ever grilled a grapefruit? Me neither, but I’m definitely intrigued by this exotic cocktail featuring honey syrup, fresh sage, silver tequila, and wheels of Ruby Red grapefruit that have been lightly grilled. Not a drink you see every day.

Grilled Grapefruit and Sage Cocktail

Looking for something a little simpler? This grapefruit martini may remind you a little bit of a Cosmopolitan, but with a fresher, more sophisticated flair. As long as you have simple syrup on hand, it’s a cinch to make.

Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini

Grapefruit in Salads: Fresh and Luscious

This cool, delectable salad of fresh grapefruit, perfect avocado, Bibb lettuce, and tender shrimp looks like it really ought to be eaten poolside in Florida on a 70-degree day in February. If you can’t manage that, well…you could eat it indoors on a 40-degree day somewhere else and just imagine you’re down here.

Grapefruit Avocado Shrimp Salad

Grapefruit and seafood are often paired, and for a reason—they really complement each other. Here, mahi mahi gets glazed with grapefruit juice and seared, then served over fresh greens and yellow peppers and topped with supremed grapefruit and pistachios.

Grapefruit and Spinach Salad with Glazed Mahi Mahi

Grapefruit in Main Dishes: Juicy and Savory

Here’s a truly Floridian dish: fresh Florida pompano in a sauce made from butter, white wine, and the juice of fresh ruby red grapefruit, with chopped pistachios on top.

Florida Pompano with a Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Sauce

What? Grapefruit…risotto? Yes! Combined with fresh thyme, red onions, and parmesan, this is a completely different dish.

Red Grapefruit Risotto with Red Onions and Thyme

Grapefruit in Desserts: Sweet and Gorgeous

I had a grapefruit pie at a local restaurant last winter that’s haunted my dreams ever since. It was kind of like lemon meringue, but not so sweet, with a graham cracker crust, and there was some kind of caramel involved, too. This recipe isn’t quite the same, but it’s similar.

Chilled Grapefruit Caramel Meringue Pie

A pavlova is a showstopper dessert combining a crispy meringue shell, fresh fruit, and whipped cream. Here, we get meringue nests burnished with reduced grapefruit juice filled to the rim with whipped cream that’s mixed with juicy supremed red grapefruit….wow!

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit for Breakfast: Tangy Good Morning

Okay, you’ve had donuts. You’ve had grapefruit. But we bet you haven’t had grapefruit donuts—right? The juicy grapefruit flavor is in the donut and the glaze here. How fun is that?

Grapefruit Donuts

Citrus and poppyseeds go together like…well, they just go together. These bright-flavored treats feature grapefruit in the scones themselves and in the pretty pink glaze.

Glazed Grapefruit Poppyseed Scones

If you’d like to see more grapefuit recipes and ideas, visit our Pinterest page. Enjoy these new ways to savor this healthful and delicious fruit.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Citrus and Your Health

Is there anything easier to grab, yet more naturally delicious than a sweet, ripe orange, a plump, juicy tangerine, or a refreshingly tart grapefruit? I know how much I look forward to enjoying this Floridian bounty every fall, winter and spring. There’s just nothing like it.

But while we know that eating fresh fruit is generally good for our health, have you ever found yourself wondering about the specific health benefits of fresh citrus? For instance, would it be fair to consider citrus a “superfood,” or is it just another good option?

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what citrus can do for your health, read on to learn 9 great reasons why citrus is more than just a deliciously easy snack!

Citrus is chock full of nutrients

Of course, almost everyone knows that citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, and limes are high in health-giving vitamin C. (Of the citrus most commonly eaten, oranges and tangerines are the highest in C, followed by grapefruit, then lemons and limes.) But it doesn’t stop there. Citrus is rich in potassium, folate, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and B vitamins as well, all of which play key roles in supporting health, from preventing birth defects to making sure fluids are in good balance. Citrus also contains phytonutrients—plant compounds such as flavonoids, alkaloids, carotenoids, limonoids, and more. We’re only beginning to understand the many crucial roles that these plant compounds play in supporting our health.

Citrus is full of fiber

We all know that fiber is good for us, right? It helps us feel full longer, reduces cholesterol levels, and, well, it keeps us regular. Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruit are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which both play important roles in the body. An average serving of citrus should provide about 1-3 grams of fiber, or somewhere around 10% of what you need in a day.

Citrus may shorten your cold

Can loading up on fresh orange juice (or hot citrus toddies!) actually prevent a cold? Research doesn’t seem to support the idea that the vitamin C in citrus can STOP colds from developing. However, getting adequate C may help shorten the length of your cold, perhaps by about a day. That’s nothing to sneeze at. (See what we did there?)

Citrus supports heart health

Citrus fruit like oranges are rich in hesperidins, which are thought to increase blood flow and potentially lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Citrus may fight cancer

Numerous nutrients and compounds in citrus have been shown to have cancer-fighting potential in the lab and in studies. In fact, research suggests that people who eat more citrus seem to have lower rates of certain cancers, including cancers of the colon, esophagus, and stomach. This effect is even stronger in people who also regularly drink green tea!

Citrus doesn’t spike your blood sugar

Especially considering their sweet taste, oranges have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause your blood sugar to shoot up quickly after you eat them but instead cause a slower, more even rise. Foods with a low glycemic index are better for us because they may keep us full longer and cause the body to store less fat.

Citrus is great for your diet

Despite their sweet taste, oranges, tangerines, tangelos, grapefruit, and other citrus are low on calories while being full of flavor and zing, along with the fiber that fills us up. The average large orange is only about 70-80 calories! (Compare to a banana at 105). What’s more, citrus juice and zest are awesome at adding flavor to food without adding salt, refined sugar, or other unwanted stuff. Some even believe that grapefruit, in particular, is a metabolism booster.

Citrus helps you absorb iron

Foods high in vitamin C, like oranges and other citrus fruit, can dramatically increase the body’s absorption of iron from food when the two types of food are eaten together. For instance, if you cook your high-iron shrimp with a delicious orange sauce, you’ll absorb that iron much better!

Citrus may help us look younger

The Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and antioxidants found in citrus fruit like oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit can benefit your skin and hair, contributing to a younger appearance. Sounds good to me!

Overall, we think you’ll agree that citrus is more than just delicious—it can have significant positive effects on your body. Enjoy these tasty fruits and the long-term benefits they can bring. To your health!


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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Citrus in Art: A Long and Beautiful History

It’s possible we’re a little biased, but around here, we consider citrus fruit and citrus trees to be breathtakingly beautiful. The glossy green leaves, the delicate, ethereally fragrant flowers…and then, of course, the fruit, in all its glorious shades of rose, golden, yellow, orange, pink, bright or deep green, and sometimes even scarlet. When you cut them open, more beauty ensues: the translucent sections shine gloriously in the light, once again displaying a rainbow of hues. 

Is it any wonder, then, that citrus fruits have been a favorite subject of artists for hundreds of years? Quick history lesson: citrus fruit originated and was first cultivated in Asia. Several thousand years later, it spread slowly to the Mediterranean. The first citrus to “travel” was the citron, which most of us wouldn’t really recognize as tasty or familiar—it was mostly peel, with a dry, inedible interior, but did have a pleasant citrusy scent. Eventually lemons also reached the Mediterranean, with limes, sour oranges, and the pomelo (the ancestor of the grapefruit) then making their way slowly around the area and into Europe. Sweet oranges came last, in the 1500s. Citrus was also brought to Florida by the Spaniards around this time.

From the beginning, cultivated citrus was treasured, valued, and expensive. The fruits acquired religious significance in various cultures and were associated with health and wealth. Of course, they were also used in cooking, especially the sour orange. And artists, appreciating their beauty and, surely, their association with wealth and high status, soon depicted them in their art, a practice that continues today. (Just visit, a marketplace for small independent artists, and type in “citrus art” to see what I mean—today’s search brought up 4,911 results.)

Let’s take a look at some examples of citrus in art across the ages. This article features a photo of a Buddha’s hand citron portrayed strikingly in white jade, from the 18th century (the Buddha’s hand is a very unusual “fingered” citrus, mostly peel, that is highly fragrant and popular in Asian countries). The article also depicts a very old silk painting from the Ming Dynasty, thought to have been painted sometime in the 14th-17th century, that clearly shows a citrus fruit (it looks like a tangerine to me, but the article mentions citron). These are just two examples of citrus’s presence in Asian art, dating back hundreds of years.

Botanical drawings of citrus are often quite beautiful, and may be considered their own category of art. A massive volume describing the known citrus varieties of the time, written by a Jesuit monk in 1646, is treasured for its beautiful engravings of these ancient and often (to our eyes) strange lemons, oranges, citrons, and so on, drawn by many of the great artists working at the time. It is a quite an amazing record—see some of the drawings here.
Banquet Still Life with Mouse by Abraham van Beyeren [wiki]
Flemish still life painting in the 1600s were incredibly lush, detailed, and vibrant, often featuring lavish spreads of fancy tableware and expensive foods, such as lobster. As a costly imported fruit, citrus fruits like lemons and oranges were very frequently featured. The opulent meals on display in these paintings were thought to symbolize both wealth and the fleeting nature of life and our inevitable journey towards death. Take a look at this one, Abraham van Beyeren’s Banquet Still Life, where a half-peeled orange or lemon lounges center stage as if still waiting to be eaten. A journey into this genre of work will reveal many such depictions.

In the 19th century, the impressionist school of painting also participated in the depiction of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, though in this case it’s doubtful that much symbolism was intended. Instead, the aim was likely simply to portray the beauty of the fruits. Here is Cezanne’s well-known Apples and Oranges, from 1899. Matisse’s Still life with Oranges, from the same year, is rather vague and conceptual, with the painting being more about colors and forms.

Still Life with Parrot by Frida Kahlo [wiki]

Meanwhile, the cubist Pablo Picasso also took his turn at a “still life with oranges.” See what you think of this playful take on the “oranges on a table” tradition, from 1936. And in 1951, surrealist folk artist Frida Kahlo depicted a luscious but strangely sliced orange in her Still life with Parrot. Critics have suggested that the sliced orange may be a symbol for Kahlo herself, who endured many painful surgeries after a near-fatal bus accident.

As for artists inspired by citrus working today, we were intrigued to learn of one current artist who literally works with oranges themselves to create his unique art. Yoshihiro Okada draws a design on the peel of a whole tangerine (leaving no part unused) and removes it carefully to reveal an astonishing piece of citrus peel art—a bird, a fish, a horse, a monkey. It’s a bit like origami, but considerably more magical and difficult. Watch more videos of Okada’ unique artistry here.

With such a rich and varied history across the globe, it’s no wonder that gorgeous, fragrant, and delicious citrus has been inspiring artists for hundreds, even thousands of years. The next time you visit an art museum or gallery, keep your eyes “peeled” for art featuring our favorite fruit.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

The Magic of Vintage Citrus Recipes

Delicious citrus has been a part of our lives and of families’ recipes for so long that thousands of beloved recipes have been created to make use of this delicious bounty. Most of us are likely familiar with many of the common favorites, such as lemon meringue pie, orange sherbet, orange cake, and lemon puddings. But although we may enjoy these familiar treats, there are so many other interesting recipes out there, some of which have nearly been lost to the sands of time. Fortunately, those who love and enjoy old recipes, as well as food enthusiasts and recipe archivists, are always at work finding and restoring these hidden gems. In this blog post, we’ll feature some lesser-known vintage citrus recipes highlighting the fresh flavors of oranges, grapefruit, and more that are worth rediscovering as part of Florida’s rich and varied citrus history.

Crepes Suzette

Crepes suzette are a very famous and antique recipe (dating from around the turn of the 20th century) consisting of crepes in a sauce of butter, sugar, tangerine juice or orange juice, citrus zest, and orange liqueur. In a rather dramatic gesture, the dish is briefly set aflame before serving. This dish was popular in the 1970s but doesn’t get seen much now. It certainly would be fun to try it again with fresh citrus. Maybe for New Year’s Eve?

Atlantic Beach Pie

Have you ever enjoyed chocolate-covered potato chips or saltines with chocolate and toffee on top? If so, you’ll probably understand the appeal of Atlantic Beach Pie, a vintage pie made with a lemon filling, a whipped cream or meringue top, and, unusually, a “cracker’ crust made not with graham crackers, but saltines. This treat was popular in North Carolina seafood restaurants in the 50s—hence the “beach”—but has recently made a comeback.

Sour Orange Pie

This is an old and truly Floridian recipe that was developed to use the juice of the sour orange. What’s a sour orange? Well, that can be a bit of an open question. I find that people use the term to apply to any somewhat “feral” orange (perhaps growing in the woods or found on an old property) of uncertain parentage that isn’t good for eating out of hand. However, the term may also be used for the Seville orange, a very authentic “cooking” orange typically used for marmalade and marinades. This recipe was designed so it can be made both with true sour oranges and with a combination of oranges and lemons. It’s something like a cross between key lime and lemon meringue pie.

Broiled Grapefruit

If you are of a certain age, your mom might have made you a broiled grapefruit once upon a time. This simple but actually very delicious recipe consists of placing a grapefruit half (with sections pre-loosened) under the broiler after topping it with brown sugar and perhaps a bit of cinnamon or butter. The topping gets browned and a bit crunchy, almost like the top of a crème brulee. In its vintage incarnation, this was often served with a maraschino cherry in the middle and was often considered an appetizer! Today, we’d probably eat it for breakfast, perhaps with yogurt or granola.

Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad goes back, in one form or another, to the late 1800s. Early versions seem to mostly be about oranges, pineapple, and coconut, dressed with sugar; one 1877 cookbook calls for “one pine-apple peeled and sliced, pulverized sugar, six oranges, six lemons and two cocoa-nuts” in layers. In the 1950s through the 1970s, however, ambrosia started getting all kinds of things added to it, from grapes, fruit cocktail, and cherries to pecans, bananas, and marshmallows. It also began to be served with a creamy dressing, which could be made of anything from whipped cream or whipped topping to yogurt to sour cream to mayonnaise. Some people love this old-fashioned citrus dessert (or is it a side dish?) and some hate it. I suggest trying a stripped down version with fresh citrus and no dressing, but if you’d like to try a more classic backyard potluck vintage version, this seems like a classic version.

Ginger Ale Citrus Salad

This recipe is here as a representative of the literally hundreds of Jell-O salads that included oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, or other citrus. Seriously, there were tons of these in the 50s, and one has to admit, they were visually stunning. This one, from a fun blog that re-creates recipes of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, is actually quite delicious, or so they say. It includes grapefruit, oranges, lemons, grapes, pineapple, and candied ginger, suspended in gingery gelatin. While we may have fallen out of love with Jell-O salad, I admit, this one sounds pretty fun.

There are literally hundreds more vintage recipes featuring oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerine, and other citrus fruits out there, since these fruits have been popular and widely available for a long time in America. While the Internet offers access to many, there’s nothing quite like diving into the pages of a real vintage cookbook to get the true feeling for an era. Citrus is so versatile and delicious that it’s been gracing our plates for a very long time. Check out a vintage recipe sometime soon and be reminded of why some things never go out of style.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Clean Eating with Florida Citrus

It’s the time of year when we all tend to overindulge—maybe a little, maybe a lot. What with all the parties, food gifts, and cookie platters, holiday weight gain and unbalanced eating can feel a little inevitable.

I enjoy all the holiday favorites, but I also often enjoy the feeling of “taking a break” from all the richness. This is where cooking with and snacking on fresh Florida citrus can help. Whether you’re aiming for a little balance or trying to change your eating habits permanently, these delicious fruits can help you eat better effortlessly.

We may think of citrus as a sweet, guilt-free snack, and it certainly can serve that purpose well—a navel, tangerine, or Honeybell eaten out of hand (maybe with a little protein, like some cheese or almonds) makes for a great healthy afternoon nibble. But there are so many more possibilities for clean eating with citrus, especially when it comes to cooking.

The balanced, sweet-acid flavor of citrus juice provides so much flavor punch, especially in savory food. One cooking secret that experienced chefs know is how important acid flavors like orange and lemon juice are to “bringing out” the flavor of food. In fact, they serve much the same purpose as salt, without any of the potential health consequences. Using fresh citrus juice in your dishes can really dial up the flavor without adding anything negative as far as health. Here are some healthy recipes using citrus juice:

Citrus Grilled Shrimp and Zoodles: Grilled shrimp is marinated in fresh orange juice with lime and cilantro and served on a bed of zucchini “zoodles.”

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad with Mango Vinaigrette : This beautiful salad with grilled chicken breast, mangoes, red peppers, and a fresh citrus juice vinaigrette looks delicious.

Orange Rosemary Glazed Salmon: Recipes featuring orange glazes are often high in added sugar, but not this one. You’ll enjoy the savory combination of orange and rosemary with salmon, a perennial family favorite and healthy choice.

Citrus zest is also another incredible flavor secret for flavorful and healthy food. Orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, and lime zest are not only delicious and intensely flavorful, they're thought to be extremely good for us. Zest is very high in vitamin C and in antioxidants that may have cancer-fighting abilities. Scientists are still learning more, but some believe the most healthful properties of citrus are actually concentrated here.

Citrus Caesar Salad with Zesty Shrimp: This Caesar salad actually uses the zest from 3 citrus fruit—orange, lemon, and lime—to make a delightfully different dressing.

Orange Ginger Tofu: This healthful recipe uses both zest and juice and incorporates tofu and broccoli for a high-calcium, vegan meal that’s also delicious.

Cranberry-Orange Brussel Sprout Slaw: High in fiber, low in fat, zingy, and crunchy, this is a perfect winter salad for when you’re feeling bogged down by carby and rich meals.

And of course, using the actual citrus fruit itself in all kinds of dishes provides a delicious flavor boost while also providing health benefits. What you get from using the fruit sections that you don’t get from using juice or zest is a big helping of fiber, which citrus fruit are rich in. Fiber is key to our health because it helps our digestion, lowers our cholesterol, and keeps blood sugar stable. A medium orange has 2-3 grams of fiber and a grapefruit has about 2 grams of fiber (we don’t tend to eat the more fibrous parts of the grapefruit… though if you peel them and eat them like you do an orange, you do!)

Citrus and Pomegranate Fruit Salad: This stunning and extremely simple salad is packed with nutrients, high in fiber, and contains no added sugar.

Pink Detox Salad: We’ll “detox” any day of the week if we get to eat this incredible-looking salad, full of ruby-red grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon on top of kale! Yum.

Orange Coconut Chia Pudding: Have you tried chia seeds? These nutritious little seeds are not only high in fiber but have an amazing ability to naturally thicken liquids to a pudding-like consistency when left to sit. Here, they turn light coconut milk and orange slices into a tasty, healthy breakfast pudding.

This holiday season, enjoy your sweets and treats, but take time to treat your body well and eat lightly and nutritiously, too. With citrus, it’s easy and delicious to do this, now and year-round.

For more healthy citrus recipes and lots more amazing citrus ideas, check out Florida Fruit Shippers on Pinterest!

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