Thursday, October 11, 2018

4 Easy Science Projects Using Oranges

If you have older children in school, you may have recently had to shepherd them through the process of creating a science fair project. This process can be stressful for parents and kids alike. (“The caterpillars are ALL dead!” “Why didn’t you label this graph?” “Where are all the glue sticks??”) By the end of the process, though, hopefully, something has been learned!

Meanwhile, if there are younger kids in your home (or if grandkids come to visit!) you may enjoy doing much smaller science experiments with them from time to time. I know my own children used to beg to play with “science kits” we had bought. These were fun. But I often felt like I had shelled out big money for what was really just a few dollars of ingredients and some instructions, plus my household materials.

Simple Projects for Pennies

Fortunately, these days, it’s really easy to find tons of fun and simple science experiments online that can be done for pennies. Many require only the most basic materials, like vinegar, baking soda and dish soap.

In fact, you can do a science experiment with something as simple as an orange! Of course, if you’re anything like us, you might not want to surrender one of our juicy, delicious navels or tangerines to science. It just seems a bit….wrong.

However, you could always use one of those anemic grocery store oranges. Also, a few of these let you eat the fruit first, or afterwards (don’t worry—no toxic chemicals involved).
Want to learn with citrus? Check out these fun and fruity experiments.

Oranges Go Swimming—Or Do They?

In this experiment in buoyancy, kids try to predict whether peeled and unpeeled oranges are going to sink or float in a bowl of water. Of course, the answer is that the buoyant, unpeeled orange will float (due to the air pockets in the skin) while the peeled orange will sink. This may seem fairly predictable to adults, but I remember the game of “Sink or Float?” entertaining my preschooler for quite some time.

How To: Orange Buoyancy Science Experiment

How Much Water is in an Orange?

One of the reasons that oranges are so good for us is that they are highly hydrating. Just how much water is in an orange, though? You can find out (roughly) with this simple experiment. You’ll slice and weigh a fresh orange, dry it out and weigh the dried slices, and do some simple math. Hot tip: You can dry your oranges faster in the oven.

How To: Orange Water Volume

Orange Battery

In this experiment, you use a nice, juicy orange, a copper nail, and a galvanized zinc nail to make an LED light glow! What makes this work is the acidity in the fruit and the dissimilar metals. By the way, this experiment will work better with a nice, fresh orange than an old and tired one.

How To: How to Make Electricity Using an Orange

Popping a Balloon with an Orange Peel

Here’s one that definitely allows you to eat the orange—bonus. In this very simple demonstration, you simply blow up a balloon, take a fresh orange peel, and squeeze the orange peel onto the balloon so that some of the peel oil sprays out onto the balloon. If the balloon is made out of rubber, it should instantly pop. This is because of the powerfully fragrant molecule that gives oranges their fresh smell. It weakens the latex in balloons!

How To: Warning: Never Eat an Orange by a Balloon!

Is there any end to what we can do with an orange? If this article has you feeling hungry or just curious, head over to our store for some sweet, fresh Florida citrus.

Photo credits: 
Water bowl” by Aditi Jain (CC-BY-SA)
Mandarin Orange Battery” by G43 (CC-BY-SA)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

8 Salads Featuring Florida Citrus That You’ve Got to Try

Do you love salad? My family does, to my great satisfaction. The key, I discovered, is to serve it in a big, wide, shallow bowl (so all the “goodies” don’t fall to the bottom) and to include plenty of delicious extras, like nuts, cheese, meat, hard boiled eggs, croutons, and definitely fresh fruit.

One of the most delicious things you can add to salads to make them especially appealing is fruit. As is often said, we “eat with the eyes,” and the bright colors of fruit really contrast beautifully with greens. Adding fruit also ups the nutritional impact of a salad, of course, pumping up the vitamin and fiber content. In this post, we’re going to concentrate on the many absolutely wonderful salads that feature fresh citrus.

Citrus-based salads are great to have in your repertoire in winter when other fresh fruit tend to be unavailable, or are often are looking a bit sad. They can brighten up your holiday table or just enliven an average January dinner with their fresh flavors. But they can also take you into spring and cool off the early days of summer. (Of course, a main dish salad is especially wonderful when the weather is hot and you really don’t feel like standing over a hot stove!)

Try one of these delicious, beautiful, and nutritious salads featuring oranges, grapefruit, or tangerines today, and enjoy the bright lift and sweet, juicy flavor these fresh Florida citrus bring to your table.

Main Dish Florida Citrus Salads

1. It may be a bit of a stretch to call this Honey Grilled Chicken with Citrus Salad a salad, since there are no greens—but it certainly looks delicious, and it does feature chicken in an orange juice-rosemary marinade, grilled and served up with a fruit salad made of a variety of fresh oranges, grapefruits, dates, and pistachios. Yum!

2. Here’s a salad that definitely eats like a meal—this Spicy Shrimp and Citrus Salad showcases sautéed spicy shrimp and Florida orange and grapefruit segments atop fresh greens, with a grapefruit vinaigrette. I can imagine this being great with some fresh baguette and creamy butter.

3. Need another easy, but delicious main-dish salad? This Chicken Orange Kale Salad takes a short cut by using rotisserie chicken, combined with raspberries, feta, red onions, pecans, sliced fresh oranges, and kale massaged with a vinaigrette.

4. Looking for a hearty vegetarian main dish salad? How about this Lentil Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese? Lentils in a simple dressing are topped with roasted beets, sliced fresh oranges, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped parsley for a unique dish that packs a lot of nutritional value.

Side Dish Florida Citrus Salads

5. Here’s a unique and healthy winter salad featuring fresh supremed ruby red grapefruit on a bed of arugula, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with shaved Parmesan on top. This would be really bright and refreshing in the doldrums of winter.

6. This Crisp Fennel and Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette is crunchy, light, and beautiful with bright tangerine sections contrasting with butter lettuce and light green fennel.

7. Or, for a heartier grain-based, but gluten-free side that would be great at the winter holidays, try this wild rice salad that features pecans and a medley of dried cranberries, dried apricots, and tangerine sections. This one can be made ahead.

8. I bet kids would love this pretty and sweet spinach and fruit salad topped with orange sections, raspberries, blackberries, and cheese that is served with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Looking for more delicious salads featuring fresh Florida oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit? Check out the Eating Clean with Citrus board on the Florida Fruit Shipper Pinterest page

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Surprising Art of Florida Orange Crate Labels

Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida
What do mermaids, pelicans, cowboys, owls, azaleas, and pirates have in common? Well?? 

If you’re stumped, we don’t blame you. The answer is that all of these things were once depicted on citrus crate labels attached to boxes of fresh Florida oranges.

Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida

f you’ve ever worked in a commercial kitchen, you may have seen some of the art that is “descended” from the tradition of produce crate labels. Large boxes of carrots, cabbage, and the like still sometimes feature branded mascots or fancy fonts meant to distinguish a company brand. But these leftovers really aren’t much like the elaborate and beautiful citrus crate labels that collectors now cherish. Let’s take a look back at the history of a practical idea that eventually became folk art and an important part of Florida’s agricultural history.

How the Labels Came to Be

Florida, of course, started growing oranges (and other citrus) hundreds of years ago, back in the 1600s. By the 1700s, we were shipping fruit to other colonies, and the industry only grew from there. However, it was hard for growers to “brand” their fruit such that buyers could know one grove or seller from another. Naturally, they wanted a way to help buyers remember their particular oranges, grapefruit, or tangerines.

California growers were actually the ones to come up with the idea of placing brightly colored paper labels on the wooden crates used to pack and ship fruit and vegetables. But Florida orange growers quickly caught on. These labels bore the names and logos of the growers, and soon became an obvious way for growers to distinguish themselves through a memorable image. The labels also served a practical function, with the background color denoting the grade of the fruit inside. Blue stood for grade A, red was grade B, and yellow or green was mixed grade.

Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida
Local and national artists found work designing eye-catching labels, some more tasteful than others. The colors are vibrant and luscious; the lithographic printing process used 16 colors and was able to depict a rich range. Many orange crate labels have a distinctly Florida feel, featuring palm trees, tropical foliage and flowers, alligators, wading birds, beach scenes, and the like—along with oranges and other citrus fruit, of course. Frequently an attempt was made to depict a carefree “Florida lifestyle”-- miles of orange groves, endless sunshine, beautiful sunsets, and so on. (Unfortunately, you will also occasionally encounter offensive racial stereotypes.)

End of an Era

This system flourished from the 1870s up to about the second world war, when the wood and metal used to make the packing crates became too valuable to use for fruit shipping and the industry switched over to printed cardboard. Though a few packers held on, by the late ‘50s, citrus crate labels had disappeared.
Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida

Today, we recognize that these labels represent a key part of Florida’s history, both because of our long history of growing oranges and other citrus and because of their unique artistic value. The University of Florida recently acquired over 3000 citrus crate labels from a private collector, Jerry Chiccone. Digital versions of the labels can be searched and viewed online at the Jerry Chiccone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection

Love the look of these labels? Want to enjoy gazing up at the glory of fresh, ripe Florida oranges, tangerine, and grapefruit depicted in art, every day, all year round? (We happen to understand.) You can easily find prints quite inexpensively--$15 and up. If you want the originals, it all depends on the type, subject, and condition. I found some on the web for as little as $5-15, though they can get up to $50 or more. Still, they’re an easily affordable collectible. Enjoy these fun artifacts from Florida’s citrus history.


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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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