Friday, November 28, 2014

Are Oranges Really Orange?

Florida Oranges come in many different varieties, sizes, and colors.  But are any of the oranges we grow really the color orange? Are some oranges more “orange” than others?

We’ll need to start by answering the question: What exactly is the color “orange”?

The color orange also describes the secondary color created by mixing equal parts of red and yellow in the traditional Red-Yellow-Blue color model. This places the true color of orange right in the middle, containing no more red than yellow.

Now, what about the fruit? Where does that fall?

Well, there are many different varieties of oranges, and even oranges of the same varieties vary slightly in coloration not just from batch to batch, but from the bottom of each orange to the top.

Most oranges are very close to a color called “Orange Peel”.  There are exceptions of course, but Orange Peel would be the color that you typically think of when you think of Florida Oranges.

Let’s play a little game.  Can you identify the color Orange Peel?  The image below shows several colors on the orange spectrum.  Which one is the color Orange Peel?  Is it more yellow or more red than true orange?

For bonus points, see if you can identify these other colors as well:  Tangelo, Pumpkin, Carrot, Tangerine.

Please Note: Our little game only works if your computer screen does a good job displaying colors!  Older computer screens may not show these colors correctly.

Please share on Facebook and Twitter so others can take the test!

Surprisingly enough, carrots are actually closer to True Orange than your typical orange. Compare the different kinds of colors you see the next time you shop for oranges!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

How is Orange Blossom Honey Harvested?

I’ve always loved Orange Blossom Honey.  And it’s not just me, Orange Blossom Honey is generally considered one of the best honeys in the world.  It’s a lightly colored honey described as having a “well rounded” sweetness.  The sweetness is on the milder side and not overwhelming, which means it complements many different types of food.  In fact, I’ve heard beekeepers say that it’s tough to recommend a specific use for Orange Blossom Honey, because it goes so well with pretty much everything.

A beautiful orange blossom.

The best part of the Orange Blossom Honey is the aroma and subtle citrus flavor.  If you’ve ever been in Florida during the citrus bloom, the smell of orange blossom honey will transport you right back to springtime in Florida.

But how is Orange Blossom Honey harvested?  Can you only get it from beekeepers that live near orange groves?   Do the bees and the grove workers live together in harmony year round?

Hard working honey bee

The answer is actually quite surprising: Beekeepers load up all of their bees onto a truck and transport them to the orange groves for the four weeks that the orange blossoms are in bloom.  Bees are opportunistic foragers and usually gather pollen from a variety of plants, so beekeepers have to put the hives right in the middle of a big orange grove if they want the bees to stick to the orange blossoms.

Be careful beekeepers!

The beekeepers pack up the beehives around dusk when all of the foragers are back in the hive and load them onto trucks and trailers before transporting them to the orange groves.  Each beehive can hold up to 50,000 bees, so one truck will literally be carrying millions of bees.

Let’s just hope those beekeepers are safe drivers. A regular car accident is scary enough without a swarm of angry bees adding to the chaos. Just make sure that if you see a big truck leaving an orange grove in the spring, you get out of the way!

The delicious results of all that work.

Licensed Images

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Did you know that a Honeybell isn't an Orange?

We often have customers asking for Honeybell Oranges.  It’s a common misnomer, and I don’t usually correct the customer.

 When I do mentioned that Honeybells aren’t actually oranges, I’m always met with surprise and a little skepticism.

Your first guess might be that a Honeybell is a cross between an orange and some other type of citrus fruit and that I’m being a bit too particular by claiming that a Honeybell isn’t an orange.

That’s a good guess.  Anyone who’s familiar with citrus knows that there are many different citrus hybrids and new ones are being created all the time.  Biologists and growers use cross pollination to mix different types of citrus to experiment with new varieties.

So, are Honeybells a hybrid between an orange and another type of citrus? Nope!  Honeybells really aren’t oranges.

Honeybells are a type of Tangelo called the Minneola Tangelo.  A Tangelo is a hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit (or pomelo). More specifically, the Minneola Tangelo is a cross between a Duncan Grapefruit and a Dancy Tangerine.

So the Tangelo is not an orange, and it’s not a descendant of any orange variety.  It is an entirely different species that came from cross pollinating grapefruit and tangerines.  This helps to explain why the Honeybell has such a unique flavor -- very different from any orange that you’ve ever tried! Honeybells are a real treat; browse our selection and experience the incredible flavor of fresh Honeybells.


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Saturday, November 8, 2014

How to Make Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaner Using Recycled Orange Peels!

As far as non-toxic all-purpose cleaners go, distilled vinegar is king. It’s almost as lethal to bacteria and mold as bleach without also being lethal to your children, yourself, and your pets. You can even spray it on your salad after you’re done cleaning for extra flavor!

What could possibly be better?!

The smell.

Vinegar has a strong smell that isn’t terrible, but it won’t win any awards. The good news is that it’s odorless when it dries. What about those of us who are used to the smells of a clean home, though? Is there any compromise without having to purchase expensive cleaners to keep your family safe?

There is! It turns out that adding the refreshing smell of your favorite citrus to a bottle of distilled vinegar is not only incredibly inexpensive, it’s fairly simple as well. Also, when the vinegar dries, your chosen scent will remain. I use this in my own home, and now I’m going to show you how to make a fresh batch for yours.


First, let’s talk about what you’ll need to bring to the party.

Distilled Vinegar This stuff is really inexpensive. I bought a gallon at my local grocery store for less than $5. You want to make sure that it says that it has 5% acidity on the jug. Any less than that, and I can’t vouch for its cleaning power.
A reasonably airtight container or two I used two ziplock 4-cup containers with screw-on lids. You can use mason jars, tupperware, or anything that seals tight. Try to get something with a wide mouth so the orange peels are easy to get out when you’re done.
Oranges It took me five navel oranges to fill both of my ziplock containers to the brim. Depending on the variety or size of your oranges, your mileage may vary. If you are running low on oranges, you can browse our great selection here
A spray bottle Any standard spray bottle will work for this purpose. I don’t recommend reusing old spray bottles, as they may still contain chemicals that could react negatively with vinegar.
1 Strainer I used a silicone strainer for my mixture. I’d recommend a finer, metal strainer, as they’ll let even less pulp through.
1 Funnel The neck of a spray bottle is narrow, and making a mess while preparing a cleaner is pretty backwards.

Step One 

Peel and enjoy some oranges. As I said before, I needed five Navel Oranges to do the job, so I got some hungry help and went to work. I personally found that peeling the oranges the messy way (by tearing off small chunks) allowed me to stuff more of the peel into the jars at the end. Try to leave as little of the albedo and pulp on the peel as possible. The more there is, the more thick the solution will become.

One orange down, and I'm just getting started.  Good thing I'm hungry!

Step Two

Fill your containers with the peels. Using medium-sized Navels, each of my 4-cup containers took two and a half oranges apiece.

One Orange’s worth. Smaller chunks take up less space in the jar, leaving room for more.

Two Oranges’ worth.  Almost full.  Still room for a little more.

Step Three

Use vinegar to fill the containers. Your containers should be so full that the vinegar is only filling in the small spaces in between. Also, be mindful of the fact that the orange peels will float. I was able to keep from overfilling my jars by pressing on the oranges with my free hand while I poured the vinegar.

Getting my vinegar ready after pushing the peels down below the lid of the jar.

Step Four

Seal the containers. It takes at least two weeks for the vinegar to absorb the full aroma from the orange peels. You can date the containers if you like. I personally just set a calendar appointment on my phone to remind me when they were ready.

Full right to the top!  Let’s take it outside to get a better look at how much we’re working with.

Notice how even after cramming as much as I could into the jar, the peels still are buoyant enough to have room at the bottom.

Step Five

Wait at least two weeks. Feel free to wait longer, though. It won’t hurt the final product. I recommend taking a long vacation during this time. You could even come down to Florida and visit our groves!

Step Six

Transfer your new, sweet-smelling cleaner into your spray bottle!

After two weeks, it’s ready. Your oranges should appear pallid. Don’t worry, though. Everything the oranges have lost, your cleaner has gained. Notice how the jar on the right is darker. I left a bit of pulp on the peels to see the effect, myself. The solution was a little thicker as well, but it was still thin enough to keep my sprayer from gunking up.

I picked up a generic 32oz. sprayer for this task. For four cups’ worth, this is ideal.

Now for the hard part, getting the cleaner into the bottle.

Time to affix your funnel.

If you aren’t holding a camera, you don’t have to turn this into the balancing act that I did. It’s much easier with two hands. You can just hold the strainer over the funnel.

Pour carefully.

Halfway there. Time for the second jar.

Feel free to dump the peels into the strainer to get every last drop. They won’t hurt anything.

All done and ready to take on the kitchen!


Step 1 Peel your oranges, tearing them into small chunks.
Step 2 Fill your jar with orange peels all the way to the top.
Step 3 Pour the distilled vinegar into the jar.
Step 4 Seal the jars and date them.
Step 5 Wait at least two weeks.
Step 6 Transfer them to a spray bottle!

And you’re done!

Go ahead and have fun with this process, though. Add other scents and fresh-smelling fruits and herbs, such as tangerines or mint leaves, to find the combination you like best. In fact, when I first tried this, I used cinnamon with the oranges. The cinnamon smell overpowered everything else. I quickly realized that cinnamon is a great scent in small doses. I didn’t enjoy having so much of it everywhere in my house.

Nothing I’ve tried yet so far smells as refreshing as oranges, though.


Feel free to use this cleaner almost anywhere in your house. Just be sure not to use it on granite. Granite is very sensitive to acid-based cleaners, such as vinegar and ammonia. Also, never mix vinegar with bleach. Bleach reacts with acids by releasing toxic chlorine gas.

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