Monday, February 27, 2017

Beyond the Juice Glass: 15 More Delicious Ways to Enjoy Citrus at Breakfast

It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that orange juice is delicious at breakfast, especially when it’s freshly squeezed. If you’d like to think outside the box (carton?) a little bit, then there’s tangerine juice or grapefruit juice--also amazing when fresh! (By the way, here’s a tip: tangerine juice is exceptionally beautiful, and holds better in the fridge than some types of orange juice, such as that from navels.)

But if a “glass of OJ” is as far as you ever go when it comes to citrus for breakfast, you’re definitely missing out. There are lots of other delicious ways to enjoy the bright, fresh flavor of oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines in the morning. Remember, citrus is inexpensive, available most of the year, and well-liked by just about everyone. It keeps well and is ripe when you buy it, so you don’t have to worry about whether it’s ready or not. It’s also high in nutrition, from (of course) vitamin C to folate, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. Check out these delicious and varied recipes, and enjoy a citrusy morning!

Healthy Choices

1. Orange-Banana Smoothie 

This simple, delicious and healthy smoothie will start your day off right. The yogurt and banana make it more filling.

2. Raspberry-Orange-Mango Smoothie Bowl

To get a bit more elaborate, have you ever tried a smoothie bowl?  This one uses fresh orange juice as its base, then adds frozen bananas, mango, and raspberries and tops it all with granola, blackberries and coconut butter. A nutrient-rich way to start your day.

3. Broiled Grapefruit

Halved ruby red grapefruit is darn good on its own. Halved ruby red grapefruit broiled with honey and topped with yogurt, honey, and pistachios? Yes Please!

Decadent Delights

4. Orange-Creamsicle French Toast 

Here’s an Orange Creamsicle French Toast that is not diet food, but looks out of this world good—stuffed with creamy orange filling and drizzled with a special orange syrup. Wow.

5. Orange Sweet-roll Pancakes

You’ve heard of sweet rolls…you may even have heard of orange sweet rolls…but have you heard of orange sweet roll pancakes? These are a bit involved, but extra-special amazing, with an orangey swirl and an orange glaze. Check them out!

6. Breakfast crepes with Candied Tangerines

Got a little extra time? These breakfast crepes with candied Tangerines are sophisticated, beautiful, and delicious—perfect for a special occasion like Mother’s Day!

Kid-Friendly Options

7. Orange-Banana Whole-Wheat Muffins 

Orange and bananas come together in these quick and surprisingly healthy whole-wheat muffins that kids are not going to turn down.

8. Baked Orange French toast

Baked orange french toast is super-simple (no more standing over a hot pan while everyone else eats!) and includes healthy wheat germ.

9. Easy Orange Coffee Cake 

This fun orange coffee cake uses canned biscuits as a “cheat,” but comes out looking beautiful and fragrant of fresh orange. Your family will go crazy for it!

New and Different

10. Coconut Chia Pudding

If you’ve never tried chia pudding, you’re missing out on a weird but wonderful health food. These little seeds have the power to turn any type of milk into a thick “pudding.” Here they’re mixed with coconut milk, honey, and vanilla, left overnight, and topped with coconut and orange slices in the morning for a cool tropical breakfast.

11. Carmelized Grapefruit Dutch Baby for Two

A Dutch baby is kind of like a giant puffy crepe. They’re easy and fun to make, and this one is topped with caramelized grapefruit.

12. Blood Orange Donuts 

Want to really go all out? These blood orange donuts look delicious and exotic. They’d be amazing for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

Homey and Comforting

13. Cranberry-Tangerine Scones

Love scones? Me too, and these cranberry-tangerine scones are easy and a bit lighter on the fat due to use of yogurt in the recipe.

14. Tangelo Muffins  

This tangelo muffins recipe is written especially to take advantage of Florida’s delicious tangelos, one of our very favorite citrus. The simple recipe makes a very moist and fragrant muffin.

15. Orange Cinnamon Granola

Homemade granola is one of most irresistible things I’ve ever turned out of my oven—it smells incredible, and is easy and much cheaper and better than store-bought. This simple orange cinnamon granola isn’t excessively high in sugar and will make your morning so much better.

Want More?

These ideas are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delicious citrus breakfasts! For more breakfast citrus recipes, as well as citrus DIY ideas, fun Florida citrus heritage photos, gorgeous photos from our groves, and much more, follow Florida Fruit Shippers on Pinterest.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Does An Orange Need to be Pretty To Taste Good?

With some fruits, the appearance of the outside is a good indicator of the taste that lies inside. We’ve all been drawn in by the look of a gorgeous box of strawberries or blueberries, or turned away from a box that looks slimy and moldy. And if your grapes look sad or withered, this is not a good sign.

On the other hand, I’ve found that a mottled, funny-looking mango may be delicious! Some unassuming or even ugly and scarred apples taste incredible. But what about citrus?

As a matter of fact, the way your citrus looks on the outside is not a great indicator of what it will taste like! Why? Well, let’s take a minute to think about what an orange peel is all about. The exterior of an orange is tough, a bit scaly, and leathery…almost a bit like the skin of our favorite Florida reptile, the alligator. When combined with the white pith beneath, it offers a great deal of cushioning, serving as a sort of “fruit jacket.” (If you’d like to see the insulating effect of the orange rind in action sometime, drop a whole orange into a glass of water and watch it float…. then try the same thing with a peeled orange, which will sink!) Orange peels are also full of powerful and fragrant citrus oils that protect the fruit from insects.
Put together, all these elements of the citrus “jacket” do an extremely good job of protecting the fruit inside—so good that citrus can wait for us on the plant for months on end without losing quality. (Try that with a strawberry!) But along the way, that jacket sometimes sees some wear and tear.

From what? Well, in the course of life, as we all know, a little rain must fall. Sometimes, in Florida, a LOT of rain! When this happens, oranges and tangerines and grapefruit may blow around quite a bit in the wind, causing them to bang up against the surrounding branches and develop a few scars and scratches. They’re fine inside their “jackets”—but the peels show some minor wear and tear.

Another thing that happens sometimes here in Florida is that our citrus fruit “regreens” (turns somewhat green again) after it has turned orange. This can be frustrating for us as growers, but it’s just part of living in our wonderfully warm subtropical climate. Regreening occurs when the weather is a bit warmer than usual and ripe oranges reabsorb chlorophyll from the trees. It does not mean that the fruit is unripe or is less sweet—in fact, some studies show that regreened fruit is actually sweeter! Indeed, in some parts of the world, citrus typically ripens without turning orange. Fortunately, citrus growers have access to sophisticated technology (as well as our own taste buds) to help us decide exactly when citrus is at the peak of ripeness and ready to pick, regardless of color. (As you may know, citrus does not ripen any further once off the tree.)

So, what does all this mean? The fact is, sometimes oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and other Florida citrus are a prime example of it being “what’s on the inside that counts.” Of course, here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we know that you often are sending our fruit as a gift, and with this in mind, we select fruit with an eye towards beauty as well as taste. At times, though, our growers harvest some absolutely delicious fruit that is, well, less than picture perfect. Such was the case with a recent crop of late-season Honeybells out of Frostproof, Florida. We offered these as a free shipping special, letting our customers know they were a bit “visually different.” They went fast!

So if taste is what matters to you more than anything, keep an eye out for the occasional “brutti ma buoni” (Italian for “ugly but good”) special here at FFS. As we all likely agree, beauty is nice, but flavor is king.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Top 10 Reasons to Buy Gift Fruit

One of the questions we hear occasionally at Florida Fruit Shippers goes like this: “Hey, I can get plenty of oranges at the grocery store. Why should I pay more for yours?” (The person who asks this question often looks a little sheepish, but also a bit defiant!)

No worries--we don’t mind this question. It’s natural to wonder what you’re “paying for” when you shop for gift oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit. So, why should you buy fruit from FFS instead of the store? Here are 10 great reasons.

1. Our fruit is absolutely, 100% unconditionally guaranteed.
Don’t you just hate it when you bring home some beautiful-looking fruit from the store that turn out be dry, mealy, flavorless, or just plain funny-tasting? Ugh. That’s not going to be a problem with us. We’re so sure that you’ll love our fresh, perfect, juicy fruit, and that every one will be just right, that we offer an unconditional guarantee. Can your local supermarket or fruit stand say the same?

2. Honeybells, honeybells, honeybells.
Have you tried a honeybell yet? No, really--have you? Go on, go get one. We’ll wait here. Oh, wait--you probably can’t find one. Honeybells are super tough to track down in stores. In fact, if it weren’t for us and our fellow fruit shippers, most Americans would never have a chance to enjoy these absolutely luscious, seedless, super-sweet and juicy fruits. People wait all year for these...and we’ve got ‘em.

3. Find out what it's like to live Floridian.
Okay, we can’t ship our beautiful beaches or “75 degrees in January” in one of our boxes. But when you buy from us, you get the chance to enjoy an incredible variety of citrus (not just navels and grapefruit) at their peak of flavor. If you live here (and most of you don’t), you might be able to find fruit kind of like this if you went out of your way to a farmers’ market or grove stand...but that takes time and effort.

4. You can buy OUR oranges (and ship them to your Aunt Linda) in your underwear.
When you shop online, the “store” is never closed. Plus, you have all the time you need (or don’t need--maybe you’ll be done in 5 minutes!) to make your selections and do your research. To be honest with you, when I have to actually go to a store these days I feel a bit lost without the extra information, in-depth personal reviews, and price comparison I can find online.

5. You’re getting the cream of the crop.
Ever strolled into the grocery store, rolled up to the fruit aisle, and wondered what bedraggled cat dragged in that day’s selection? I know you have. That isn’t going to be a problem when you order from us. To “make it” as a FFS orange, grapefruit, or tangerine, you’ve got to be #1 grade--the best of the best. We sort the fruit in the field, and what doesn’t look top of the line is not going to make it into your fruit box. Period.

6. You’re supporting a family business.
Here at FFS, we’ve been in the citrus business for more than 30 years--since 1983. We started off as a small fruit and vegetable stand in Gulfport, FL. We’ve grown a lot since then. But since the beginning, owner Rick Delgreco and family have been here, standing by our products.

7. We’re not just fruit.
Sure, you can buy oranges at the grocery store. But can you get a beautiful basket of top-quality, hand-selected oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit, topped off with chocolate-covered coconut patties, chocolate amaretto pecans. orange blossom honey, or specialty orange marmalade? Nope. (Want to add a Key lime or chocolate Bundt cake? Lots of people do.)

8. We’re the foodie choice.
Don’t settle for the generic fruit at the store when you can explore all the unique and different options we have to offer...and please your foodie, gourmet friends! Ever tried an ortanique? What about a tangelo? Both are delicious--and hard to find elsewhere.

9. It looks a lot better delivered from us than it does in that grocery store baggie.
So you want to give healthy, nutritious, delicious fresh oranges as a gift? Perfect choice. But presentation counts--are we right? Unless you feel like running around town picking up this and that and figuring out how to ship and deliver it, you’re going to want to buy from us instead. Not only is the fruit delicious--it’s gorgeous.

10. Grown, packaged, and shipped in the United States
Florida has been the queen of citrus for generations--but in recent years, fruit from other countries has started to enter the market. When you buy citrus from us, you know you’re purchasing fruit grown in the United States, and that laws protecting workers and the environment have been followed. You’re keeping your dollars here.

So...have we convinced you yet? We thought so. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to Make Your Own Orange Vodka and Orange Liqueur

Citrus is an absolutely amazing food, with an incredible wealth of uses. We’ve already covered how great citrus is in savory dishes, desserts, and cookies, and how even citrus peel is incredibly valuable for all kinds of DIY projects. But here’s one we haven’t yet tackled: making orange vodkas and liqueur!

This project is so easy a 10-year-old could do it (though we don’t recommend that, for obvious reasons) and mostly just involves doing absolutely nothing. Yet the end result is a subtle, gourmet ingredient that any mixologist or home bartender would be proud to have in his or her liquor cabinet. Let’s see how it works.

Your ingredients are delightfully simple: two flavorful oranges (or tangerines), two cups of vodka (mid-range is just fine), a large jar, and two navel oranges. (Later, you’ll need sugar, but that’s not for a while yet.)

First, wash your oranges (you may want to scrub them a little if they look dirty at all, since they’re going in peel and all) and slice them about ½ inch thick. If your fruit has seeds, pick them out.

Now place your orange slices in the jar, cover with vodka, and screw on the top. Give it a few shakes.

Your next job is to let this little orange-and-vodka concoction sit at room temperature for at least a week and preferably two to three. (It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.) You can shake the jar occasionally if you like. Here are my oranges and vodka after about 2 weeks. As you can see, the oranges have released some of their essence into the alcohol.

Once you think you’re ready to move on to the next step, strain the big orange slices out over a bowl, using a fine colander. Discard the oranges. (Honestly, there’s probably something you can do with these boozy bits, but I wasn’t sure what!)

Now get a paper coffee filter or a paper towel and place it over your colander. Slowly pour the vodka through, stopping to wait for it to drain and changing the filter paper if it starts to tear. Your goal at this point is to filter out the small orange pieces so you have a clear, orange-flavored vodka with no “stuff in it.”

This is your orange vodka. If you want, you can stop here, and use this in any number of cocktail recipes, from an Orange Breeze Martini to this “Florida Mule”, as well as any recipe calling for vodka where orange would harmonize.

However, I wanted to make orange liqueur, a.k.a. Grand Marnier/triple sec/curacao, used in popular drinks like Cosmopolitans, margaritas, and Long Island Iced tea, along with a host of others. To make this liquor cabinet staple from your orange vodka, there’s just one more step! (Two, if you count cooling time.) Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely.

When this mixture is cool, add it to your orange vodka. (That’s a 2 to 1 ratio of vodka to syrup, in case you started with different amounts.) Now you have orange liqueur! I find mine to be fragrant, sweet, and light, with (of course) a completely natural taste. It’s pretty special.

Note that this is not the only way to make an orange liqueur. This recipe uses just the orange peel (no fruit) and is based on brandy. This one incorporates dried bitter orange peel, cloves, and brandy, along with fresh orange zest. And let’s not forget the intriguing recipes out there for orangecello and vin d’orange. All these projects are pretty quick and easy! Frankly, if you have a lot of fruit on hand, you could have a session where you start all these brewing and get it done in no time.

Once your liquors are ready, they will keep for at least 6 months, probably more. These concoctions make wonderfully different gifts for those on your list who enjoy cocktails—you can even put them up into small “nips” bottles. Package with a cute ribbon and label.

Of course, maybe this whole blog has made you thirsty for a citrus cocktail, but you don’t want to wait. If so, check out our previous article: 7 Citrus Cocktails and 4 Nonalcoholic Citrus Mocktails You Need to Try. Cheers!

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