Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Section Grapefruit Like an Expert

Grapefruit is lauded as a kind of miracle fruit when it comes to cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight loss. As a result, it is finding its way into our daily meals more and more often. You may be surprised to learn that how you prepare your grapefruit can really affect how much you enjoy your new diet.

The purpose of sectioning is to completely remove the mesocarp (or pith) of the fruit. We won’t get into a grapefruit anatomy lesson today -- it’s enough to know that the mesocarp is the white part between the flesh of the fruit and the peel. The mesocarp is bitter, so if you learn to section your grapefruit, you’ll end up with a sweeter snack.

Follow the steps below and we’ll show you how to cut out all of the mesocarp and get the best flavor out of your grapefruit. If you’re used to peeling your grapefruit, we guarantee that it will taste much better this way!

What You Will Need

1 Plate
1 Grapefruit
1 Very Sharp Knife

Our grapefruit are extremely juicy, so you’ll want to use a plate to catch the excess juice and keep your counter tops clean. 

Your knife should be very sharp. The sharper your knife is, the less tearing or crushing the fruit will experience as you section it. This keeps juice from escaping the pulp during cutting, so it stays in in the sections you eat.

Step One: Your First Cut.

I prefer to start my cut roughly 2 ½ inches from the stem (if you were to draw a line down the peel). This is about even with the top of the pulp on the inside of the grapefruit. Depending on the size of your grapefruit, you may have to adjust. Don’t worry though, you won’t ruin your grapefruit if you misjudge.
Cut across the fruit, parallel to the ground. Pretend you’re giving your grapefruit a flat-top haircut.
Stop cutting about an inch from the edge but leave your knife where it is. We’re about to change direction and continue cutting.

Step Two: Remove The Peel.

Gently lift the flap you’ve made. You’ll see the pulp and the white mesocarp beneath. You want the pulp intact but not the peel or mesocarp.
Using the white border of the pulp as a guide, turn your knife into the fruit, gently sawing the two apart.
Angle your knife slightly towards the bottom of the fruit. This keeps separated parts intact as a single, spiral piece. It also keeps you from having to make multiple cuts.
When you get to the final piece on the bottom (or blossom-end), mimic your first cut by cutting cleanly across, removing the last of the peel.

Step Three: Remove any remaining mesocarp.

There will be some white left on your grapefruit. This still needs to be removed. Holding your blade’s edge nearly flat against the pulp, carefully shave the white pieces off of the sides.

Step Four: Start Sectioning.

There should only be two areas with mesocarp left on your grapefruit, the top and bottom. Other than that, the only white parts left are dividing the sections. Now, to deal with those.
You want to separate the pulp from the dividing wall (or mesocarp). Cut into the fruit, carefully staying just inside of the pulp.
Stop cutting when your knife’s blade reaches the white of the top and bottom.
Your next cut will be inside the opposite wall of the same section, stopping at the same spot as the first. The interior pulp will come free as a solid, juicy, delicious piece.

Step 5

Repeat until done.
I find it easiest to fold the mesocarp back on the other gutted sections while cutting new sections.

Step Six

Arrange and enjoy! Try this out when you're buying your next Grapefruit!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Which Was Named First, the Color or the Fruit?

Sounds a bit like the famous “Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg” question, doesn’t it? Luckily, this question isn’t rhetorical. We have a definite answer.

You will be relieved to know that the fruit was named first. Technically, the tree was named first. The word we use for Oranges and their trees has truly ancient roots.

The earliest word we find for “Orange Tree” is “nāraṅga” from Sanskrit. This early language is more than four thousand years old, appearing in some of our most ancient stories, such as the Bhagavad Gita.

The Sanskrit language originated in the ancient lands we now know as India.

Hundreds of years later, it found its way to ancient Persia through trade and migration to become “nārang.”

At the height of its power, the Persian Empire spanned parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The Persian empire rose and fell, the Arabic language became more widely used and orange trees spread further and further. The Arabic word for the tree was almost unchanged from the Persian: "naranj."

Arabic speaking countries span the Middle East and Northern Africa.

After several millennia of growth and trade, the orange tree found its way to Spain. The Spanish adapted the name to the feminine “naranja.”

As the popularity of oranges then spread to France, Spain’s neighbor, the word “Orenge” appeared in Old French, a precursor to the Modern French word “d’orange.”

The Spanish language is heavily influenced by Arabic due to Spain's proximity to Northern Africa. 

The orange finally made its way into early English-speaking countries. For the first time, the definition shifted to describe the fruit instead of the tree itself. The fruit and it's name rose in popularity, and was widely being accepted as a great gift.

As for the color, while the word was introduced in late Middle-English during the late 1300’s to early 1400’s, there isn’t any evidence of “orange” used to describe color until the mid 1500’s. English speakers until then preferred more descriptive terms, such as “yellow-red.”

Lined up, the history seems much more evident, almost inevitable.

Sanskrit Persian Arabic Spanish French English
nāraṅga nārang nāranj naranja orenge orange

When you pronounce these words out loud, you get a real sense of how history shapes and forms the languages we speak today.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Orange Trees are Perfectly at Home in Florida's Soil

Citrus trees are tough to please. They need lots of wind, they’re sensitive to rainfall, and they need sunlight year-round. Only a few states grow a lot of citrus and most of those states only grow in very specific areas. When we look at groves in Florida, though, almost every county below the panhandle grows commercial citrus. What makes Florida so ideal?

The answer: the right soil. Because Florida is a peninsula, much of its surface at one time or another used to be a beach. This is very good for citrus trees because sandy soil makes for good drainage.

Bordered by water on three sides.

Good drainage is vital to the health of the tree.  Citrus trees have shallow roots which only reach down two or three feet. This makes them prone to submersion when it rains. If the roots are regularly submerged for long periods of time, they will rot, killing the tree.

Some sandy Florida soil.

Florida’s soil is so sandy that even though it’s the fifth rainiest state in America, the rain drains fast enough that the roots aren’t damaged.  Citrus trees and their fruit get the benefit of all the moisture without it harming the roots.

Lots of water and great drainage make Florida's oranges the juiciest and sweetest!

The combination of a subtropical climate and unique soil is key to growing the sweetest, juiciest citrus in the world. Many agree that there is no sweeter citrus than those that are ordered fresh from Florida. During Florida’s rainy season, the soil plays a very important role as it saves the trees from drowning. Without the right soil, Florida’s thriving citrus industry would have been stalled by a state filled with nothing but steamy swamps and grumpy gators.

Did someone say oranges?
Licensed Images

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

If Navel Oranges are seedless, How Can They Reproduce?

Seedless Navel Oranges seem like an impossible proposition.  Without seeds, how can we grow new Navel Orange trees?

No seeds in Navels!

The chance mutation we now call the Navel Orange was first discovered in the late 18th century in Bahia, Brazil. Along with its seedless interior, this variety had a secondary, underdeveloped orange inside of the same peel which formed its signature navel shape.

The Navel Orange was an instant hit, but how would the Brazilian farmers plant more of this delicious fruit? Without seeds, it had no way of reproducing on its own.

Bahia, Brazil: Home of the world's original Navel Orange tree.

The answer was surprisingly simple. They cut branches from the Navel Orange tree and attached them to closely-related varieties nearby.  This process is called grafting.

Grafting is the ancient practice of attaching fruitful branches from one tree to the roots of similar trees or “rootstock” by joining them on precisely-cut angles and applying an adhesive to keep them stuck together. The new branch receives nutrients from the rootstock as though it was its own branch and continues to bear fruit. This was first done in China over four thousand years ago and continues more or less unchanged today.

Navel Orange Tree, from graft to grove.

So, to answer our little riddle:  The Navel Orange tree doesn’t need to reproduce.  Growers just continue to graft Navel Orange branches on to new rootstock and these branches continue to grow into delicious Navel Oranges! Whether as a delicious snack or a great gift, Navel Oranges are loved by all. Share the love with someone and order Navel Oranges shipped right to you!

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