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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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tempt Your Favorite Foodie with Citrus Gifts

Have you got one in your life? You know the type we’re talking about. He or she always knows which restaurants to go to (and which ones NOT to), the must-have kitchen gadgets and luxury food splurges of the hour, and of course, what kind of contraption we’re supposed to be using to make our coffee these days. Yes, we’re talking about…. foodies.

Not that we’re trying to put foodie-ism down! Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we are 100% on board with having a taste for what is most delicious in life. It’s what motivates us day in and day out: growing, packing, and shipping out the sweetest, juiciest, most luscious citrus fruit for our loyal customers. And like foodies, we take a special joy in discovering and sharing our tasty finds.

So, if you’re buying for a foodie, this holiday season or throughout the year, pull your chair closer. We’ve got your number.

Valencia Oranges: Is someone you know a juicing fiend? If so, this is what you want to order. The classic juicing orange for a reason, these are heavy, sweet, and seedless, and their juice both keeps and freezes well. These are also perfect for that friend who loves to mix up fresh juice-based cocktails for the crowd.

Honeybell Tangelos: These special fruit, little known outside Florida, have a passionate following of dedicated fans. They’re big, seedless, incredibly sweet, and very juicy, with a honeyed flavor that’s not like other citrus—tangeriney, but deeper. Some of us eat several a day in season! Your foodie will feel like you let them in on a secret.

Oranges Three Ways: If your foodie is anything like the ones we know, they love to compare and contrast different flavors, savoring subtle variations in a similar product. Give them the opportunity with “Oranges Three Way,” which features flavorful Sunburst tangerines, classic Navel oranges, and Orlando Tangelos, which are similar to Honeybells.

Robinson Tangerines: These little-known fruits offer an intense depth of flavor and are super sweet and easy to peel. Robinsons are fragile and can’t handle supermarket treatment, so they’re a rare treat…perfect for foodies in the know.

Calendar Club: Want to go all out for your citrus-loving foodie? Our calendar club will wow them with a lush variety of 6 months of fresh-from-the grove citrus. With 2 kinds of tangerines, temples, navels, ruby red grapefruit, honeybells, and juicing Valencias on offer, there’s a lot of sweet variety to choose from here.

Key Lime Bundt Cake: All right, we know your foodie probably likes to bake his or her own luscious treats from scratch…but every once in a while there’s something that’s worth making an exception for, right? Our Key lime bundt cake is that exception. Made with 100% all natural key lime juice, it’s moist, tangy, buttery, and very Floridian. You won’t find this one just anywhere.

Citrus “Accessories” for the Foodie Crowd:

What “goes with” a gift of premium Florida citrus? A beautiful juicer is an obvious choice. We’ve reviewed citrus juicers before, but if you need a quick pick, this is an attractive manual choice, while this electric option looks good and performs well.

Cover image copyright to publisher
Is your foodie a wizard in the kitchen? This beautiful citrus cookbook should inspire him or her to cook up some delicious gourmet treats with the fruit you’ve sent, like Tangerine Sticky Ribs or Orange-Rosemary Polenta Cake. Maybe you’ll even score an invite.

If your foodie is more of a mixologist instead, then accompany your fruit with this beautiful guide to mixing the perfect drink, which will help them make classic citrus-based cocktails that use oranges, limes, lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit, like the Margarita, the Lemon Drop, the Paloma, and the Classic Daquiri. Bottoms up!

Enjoy spoiling the foodie in your life. If you’re lucky, he or she will spoil you back. We’ve found that knowing and loving foodies can be very rewarding if you enjoy eating (and really, who doesn’t?) Over time, you might just find yourself turning into a foodie too.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“Orange” You Addicted to Quizzes?

Are you a big fan of citrus? Do you love a tall, frosty glass of orange juice in the morning, or a sweet and tangy tangerine with your lunch? There are so many ways to enjoy the flavor of citrus that it wouldn’t be unusual to delight in it at every meal of the day—including dessert.

But how much do you really know about the beautiful and delectable fruits that Florida’s been growing since the 1500s? Take our 10-question quiz and find out if your score rates you as a “King Pomelo” or just a “Baby Kumquat.”

1. Which of the following is NOT a type of citrus fruit?

  1. Buddha’s hand
  2. Blood lime
  3. Finger lemon
  4. Mandarinquat
Answer: C Although there actually is such a thing as a “finger lime” (it’s an Australian citrus that is, yes, finger-shaped, with a juicy, tangy inside), the finger lemon is….not a thing

2. How many seeds can an orange have and still qualify as seedless?

  1. 1
  2. 3
  3. 4
  4. 6
Answer: D Surprised? It’s true: a fruit with up to 6 seeds still counts as seedless to the US Department of Agriculture. You probably do know this if you think about it, as most of us have come across an errant seed when enjoying a seedless navel.

3. Which of these citrus fruits is not grown commercially in Florida in any significant amount?

  1. Grapefruit
  2. Tangerines
  3. Lemons
  4. Navel oranges
Answer: C Although plenty of homeowners enjoy growing lemons in their backyards here, lemons are not grown commercially in the Sunshine State in any numbers. The climate here isn’t ideal for these very high-acid fruits.

4. Which of the following strategies has NOT been used to protect orange groves from below-freezing temperatures?

  1. Turning orange trees into giant icicles
  2. Putting each orange tree into a little tent
  3. Setting up giant wind machines in orange groves
  4. Sending big flocks of geese in orange groves
Answer: D Growers here have tried a lot of crazy things over the years to keep their precious orange trees warm when the temperature drops, but as far as we know, sending in the geese brigade hasn’t been one of them. (Spraying trees with water and letting it freeze, as counterintuitive as it sounds, is actually a very common method that is still used today.)

5. What are the special vehicles used to bring harvested citrus fruit from the groves to the trucks called?

  1. Goats
  2. Donkeys
  3. Pigs
  4. Burros
Answer: A Yup. We’re not sure why, either.

6. How many pounds of oranges and orange juice does the average American consume each year

  1. 6
  2. 13
  3. 27
  4. 42
Answer: C Although Americans also enjoy sweet, delicious oranges off the tree, most of this is consumed in the form of orange juice. We really love our morning OJ. (I don’t know about you, but I take mine freshly squeezed.)

7. What is the name of the official Florida citrus mascot?

  1. Lulu, The Florida Orange Girl
  2. The Florida Orange Bird
  3. Orange You Happy?
  4. OJ Delicious
Answer: B The bright orange, big-headed Florida Orange Bird was created in 1970 by Disney and the Florida Citrus Commission. While he was out of commission for a while, you can see him again now at Tomorrowland Terrace in Disney World.

8. Why is Florida such a good place to grow oranges?

  1. Oranges need a lot of rain and heat
  2. Oranges do best with a sea breeze
  3. Oranges need a lot of calcium in the soil and Florida was recently the bottom of the sea
  4. Oranges can only be grown in close proximity to theme parks and alligators
Answer: A Who likes dry oranges? Nobody, that’s who. Our warm, wet climate (ever been through a summer storm in Florida?) ensures that our fruit is juicy-sweet.

9. How did marmalade get its name?

  1. From the Portuguese word for “quince paste”
  2. Corrupted from the Scottish phrase “Marm’s laid it away”
  3. From the French, “Marie est malade” (Marie is sick), since Marie Antoinette favored it when ill
  4. No one has any idea
Answer: A Marmalade, a bittersweet orange jam, is traditionally made from the Seville orange. The food dates back to the 1500s, when it was a Portuguese sweet made of quinces called marmelada. The first “modern” interpretation of marmalade appeared in the 1700s.

10. What percentage of Florida oranges grown today are processed for juice?

  1. 24%
  2. 56%
  3. 87%
  4. 97%
Answer: C You might be surprised to learn that the vast majority of Florida’s orange crop goes to satisfy the world’s great thirst for sweet Florida orange juice. That means our “eating” fruit is all the more special. Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we’ve been growing perfect, prime eating fruit for generations for people who know how to appreciate gourmet fresh citrus. We baby our oranges, tangerines, Honeybells and grapefruit, harvesting them at the peak of sun-warmed Florida perfection, packaging them in beautiful boxes and baskets, and sending them to the people you love. Place an order with us today. You won’t regret it


0-2 correct: BABY KUMQUAT

Are you from Alaska?

3-5 correct: TINY TANGERINE

Getting better. You’ve probably been to Disney at least once and may have tasted fresh-squeezed juice.

6-8 correct: GRADE A ORANGE

You have eaten a Honeybell and own multiple pairs of flip-flops.

9-10 correct: KING POMMELO

You refused to buy anything but Florida citrus and know that when it comes to parking, what matters is shade, not proximity.

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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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