Friday, November 26, 2021

Holiday Self-Care with Citrus


Ahhh, the holidays.....a whirlwind of cooking, eating, family gatherings, gift-exchanging, festive decorating, celebrating, socializing, and...stress. It seems ironic that we get "time off" for the holidays only to fill that time right up with an extensive to-do list, one that is usually more than what most mere mortals can handle.  Don't get me wrong--we WANT to do these holiday things. We thumb through magazines and click through websites loaded with inspired ideas that get our holiday cockles all aglow...until the glow fades out and we find ourselves in the middle of a pile of half-wrapped gifts and half-decorated cookies, feeling half-baked, overwhelmed and out of juice. Funny we should mention juice...but more on this later.

Self-Care Is Important During the Holidays

One of the most beautiful features of the holiday season is its emphasis on giving. Whether it's a trip to the mall or local artisan markets to buy presents, sending delicious citrus and special treats from Florida Fruit Shippers to friends and family all over the world, volunteering at a local shelter, or donating food to help fill the shelves of a community food pantry, it is easy to forget that we have to restock our own shelves regularly to keep the momentum of giving spirit going. It's not shelve-ish (er, selfish). In fact, it behooves us to create space for some self-care in the midst of the activity whirlwind. Ironically, a little bit of time spent in taking care of yourself will pay off with more time and energy to keep going

Citrus Can Help!

So what does all of this have to do with juice, and how can citrus possibly help with easing the stress of the season?  Well, there are actually a number of ways you can turn to our favorite fruits to help nurture body and mind, depending on how much time you have.  

Hydrate with Orange Juice
One of the most overlooked causes of fatigue is dehydration. The equation is simple: we get busy + we forget to hydrate = we get dehydrated.  Now, keeping a jug of water nearby is always a good idea.  When things are particularly crazy, however, enjoying a tall, cool glass of orange juice once or twice per day in addition to your regular water intake can have amazing restorative effects.  Along with its hydration benefits. the blast of vitamin C will infuse your body with a sustaining source of energy and strengthen your immune system (lest we forget that holiday time is also cold and flu season). Orange juice has also been found to alleviate inflammation, and the fiber in its pulp is great for keeping us regular--another stress reliever! And, just the very act of taking a moment to restore and renew by enjoying a drink is restorative in and of itself.  Try not to chug it down, but rather take slow and steady sips, enjoying the moment of self-care.

Try a Grapefruit Facial

If you can carve out just a bit of time, try a facial. We hold a lot of tension in our countenance, often without even realizing it. A little nurturing attention to the area can work wonders for stress relief. But what kind of facial do we do, and how do we do it? When you do a search for the latest, greatest rejuvenating facials, most spas will offer some fancy version of a grapefruit or citrus peel treatment. Grapefruits are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, as well as Vitamin C and its derivatives which lock in moisture to help us look and feel revitalized, so spas love to tout these benefits with their treatments and products. Going to a spa, however, can add stress to your pocketbook. Fortunately, there's no need to pay a spa or even purchase a product boasting grapefruit-extracted ingredients. Look no further than the grapefruit on your kitchen counter, and the plain yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) in your fridge! The recipe is simple: mix the juice from half of a fresh grapefruit with half a cup of plain yogurt, and apply to your skin.  Assume a reclining position on the couch or even in a warm bathtub for up to twenty minutes, rinse, and pat dry.  Drink a glass of orange juice, take a deep breath, and return to your holiday activities.

With a bit of citrus-enhanced self-care, you can be indeed be assured of a less-stressful, FUN holiday season!  From all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers to you, Happy Holidays! 


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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Mindful Eating with Oranges

 'Tis the overeat.  It's practically expected and even encouraged of us during this festive, food-centric time of year. How many holiday feasts throw moderation to the wind during that second, third, or even fourth helping, or that extra slice of pie? No big deal, we rationalize; we only do this once or twice per year, after all. Except that statistics show that Americans actually binge a lot more often than that, and that the season for gratitude is quickly being replaced by the season for overconsumption.

The Overconsumption Cycle

A big part of the reason for this urge to binge, according to Psychology Today, is actually due to deprivation.  While that may sound paradoxical, closer examination reveals a lot of logic to this observation: by totally depriving ourselves of foods we really love during times when we have good willpower, we are only building up potential energy for a binge fest during times of stress, fatigue, or when given an excuse like a holiday feast.  This hyperbolic pattern of eating is unwholesome for the body and the mind, because it also fosters feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings exacerbate an unhealthy cycle: we don't eat what we "shouldn't," then we eat too much of it, then we feel bad about ourselves, and the cycle starts all over again. However, there is a solution, and it doesn't involve giving up the joy of a hearty meal.

Oranges to the Rescue!

Enter the humble yet all-powerful orange, which is a delicious, nutrition-packed gateway to moderation and a wonderful choice for cultivating mindful eating. Just eating an orange, mindfully or not, will immediately fill you up with nutrients and fiber enough to make you want to eat less and eat healthier, especially when paired with a tall glass of fresh water. Starting any meal with an orange, or eating an orange after a meal but before dessert, will work wonders to curb overindulgence.

What is Mindful Eating?

The solution to breaking the deprivation-overeating cycle, according to health experts and dieticians, is mindful eating, also known as intuitive eating.  The concept of intuitive eating is multi-faceted: honor your hunger, look at food as your sustenance versus your enemy, end self-judgement based on what foods you're choosing to eat at any given moment, slow down your chews and swallows and begin to tune in to when you feel satisfied, practice self-compassion when you are struggling, make smart food choices without depriving yourself of other foods you might not classify as "smart" but which you really really want (think of that pie!), stay active. While these may read like a list of very different things, they really all are versions of being mindful about your relationship to food and your body.  But how can we learn to be mindful in this way?  Once again, we can turn to the mighty orange!

Meditation on an Orange

Try this easy meditation exercise in the morning, right after waking up and before you carry on with the rest of your usual routine.  

    *Inhale. Exhale. 

    *Walk slowly to the kitchen, paying attention to the sensation of the contact of your feet on the floor.

    * Reach your hand out and pick up an orange from Florida Fruit Shippers

    *Feel its size and weight in your hand.  Turn it around a few times, getting a sense of its texture and observing its color and shape. 

    *Close your eyes.  Bring the orange to your nose and inhale deeply. Imagine the sun, rain, and soil that grew the tree that fruited this orange. 

    *Open your eyes and observe the orange again.  Gently begin to peel the rind, being attentive to the feel of the flesh and the aroma of the zest. 

    *Tenderly separate each segment of the orange. Observe the patterns and colors on a segment. 

    *Draw a segment to your mouth. Inhale. Exhale. Take a small bite. Notice the burst of juice and sweetness on your tongue and the inside of your cheeks. 

    *Chew slowly, and do not lift another segment until this one has been fully experienced, chewed, and swallowed.  

    *Continue with the remaining segments, inviting your senses to partake of each step. 

    *Notice any additional or new sensations or emotions, such as an urge to rush, and allow these feelings to arise without judging or acting on them.  Continue to move slowly and mindfully, and with gratitude.  

When the orange has been fully ingested, remain still for a few more minutes, inhaling and exhaling, enjoying the aftertaste, and inviting  gratitude.  Notice throughout your day how this mindful eating can inform your other meals and even your other tasks. Here's to a happy and healthy holiday season, and an invitation to enjoy--really enjoy--your holiday meals!


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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

How to Make a Citrus Menorah

Want to get a head start on December festivities?  This year, Hanukkah --The Jewish Festival of Lights-- begins in November. It is celebrated for eight nights, starting on November 28 and ending on December 6. Even if you're not Jewish, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah and Hanukah) contains wonderful traditions and decorations that merge beautifully with the spirit of this time of the year.  Lights, food, family, games, gifts, and gratitude all play a part during the celebration of Hanukkah, and the centerpiece is, without a doubt, the Menorah.   

What Is a Menorah?

A menorah, which translates from Hebrew as "lamp stand," is a candelabrum with branches on it to hold seven or nine candles. The Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah, contains nine branches: a taller one called the shamash in the center, and four shorter ones to the left and right of the shamash.  Hanukkah menorahs come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and tiny to very embellished, large, and expensive.  But it isn't necessary to spend a lot of money or time to enjoy a beautiful menorah in your home.  If you have a grapefruit, eight oranges, and a box of Chanukah candles available at most stores or online, you can make your own!

Why Make It with Citrus?

Well, here at Florida Fruit Shippers, where citrus is our passion, the immediate response from our vantage point is, "Why not?"  But beyond even that, it is interesting to note that oranges and grapefruits have a long history in the traditions of Jewish culture. Because citrus fruits have always been an important part of holiday meals and ceremonies, Jewish farmers who lived some 1,500 years ago mastered cultivation of citron and then many other varieties of citrus as the diaspora spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond, and Jewish merchants were able to spread the deliciousness of citrus even further. With this bit of history in mind, it makes sense that a citrus menorah is aligned with Hanukkah. So, if you love to DIY as much as me, you'll love this easy project that results in a festive, fragrant, and very affordable menorah!  

How to Make It

You'll need one grapefruit and four oranges for your citrus menorah.  First, find a platter or large board to situate your fruit upon. Line with aluminum foil. Cut just bit off of the bottom of the grapefruit so that it is flat.  Place the grapefruit securely at the center of the platter.  Make sure it is stable--we are lighting a candle on it! Then, cut each of the oranges in half and place them flat side down on both sides of the grapefruit, four on each side. Take a paring knife and cut holes at the top of each piece of citrus, just big enough to situate a Hanukkah candle inside, but not so big that the candle isn't secure. 

How to Use Your Citrus Menorah

You will need a full box of menorah candles (available at most big box stores or online). At sundown on the first night of Hanukkah, light one candle, the shamash, and put it in the grapefruit at the center.  Then, place one unlit candle on the orange furthest to the right. Use the shamash to light the first orange candle.  Sing a song or take a moment of quiet reflection, and allow the candles to burn all the way to exhaustion (do keep an safety eye on them, as with anything using fire). On the second night, place candles in the two oranges furthest to the right, and light them with the shamash. Continue in this way each night, adding a candle from right to left until the eighth night, when all of the candles will be lit.  If you wish, you can exchange gifts each night, or just on the last night.  We suggest a gift basket from Florida Fruit Shippers!

Wishing you and yours a happy and citrus-illumined Hanukkah.

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Friday, November 12, 2021

Thanksgiving Recipes Are Better with Oranges

Orange you glad it’s Autumn? Okay, okay, pun notwithstanding, oranges are a delightful companion to cooler weather recipes, and particularly Thanksgiving classic side dishes like cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, and apple cider. Boasting a perfect combination of sweet and tart flavors, not to mention the healthy polyphenols from the zest, oranges lift the traditional hearty repast into brighter territory.  

orange fruit beside clear drinking glass filled with black liquid

 Some Chef's Secrets

It is helpful to have a few simple culinary terms, tools, and techniques under your belt before diving into the recipes.  

The first one is the term zest, aka the outer colored portion of a citrus peel, or in this case the orange outer layer.  When a recipe calls for zest, it is typically asking for the outer peel to be finely grated or minced. 

There is a bit of finesse involved, as we want to separate the zest from the white, pithy inner layer of the peel, which can be quite bitter.  The most straightforward way would be to use the smallest holes on a simple rasp, plane, or box grater, and hand grate a washed orange until the orange layer is gone. If you don’t have a grater on hand, you can use a vegetable peeler and fleck off small pieces of zest at a time until the orange looks white. A typical orange will yield about two to three tablespoons of grated zest.

 Not only is zest tangy and delicious; it is also loaded with polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. And if you get a little of the white pith mixed in, don’t worry; bitters are very healthy and it’s not likely to overpower the sweet piquancy of the zest.  

Another helpful technique is knowing how to juice an orange. No matter which technique you use to juice, do roll the orange on the counter a few times first, to help break down the cell walls so the fruit releases its juices more readily.

If you have a manual juicer, cut the orange in half and simply press and twist each half downward onto the juicer, making sure that the whole rig is situated over a catch bowl to collect the prized juice.  If you do not own a juicer, there is a fu --if slightly less neat--way to juice that I learned from a friend: Cut the orange in half at its widest diameter.  Take a fork and poke the tines all over the exposed innards of the fruit. Then, plunge the fork into the center of the orange, hold it over a bowl, and twist.  Continue this process, moving outward from the center to the rind until not one ounce of juice remains in the fruit. Pick or strain out the seeds and voila!  You have juiced your orange.

Important tip: If a recipe calls for both orange juice and zest, remember to zest the orange first, as zesting a juiced orange is almost impossible. 

Which Oranges Should I Use?

Here’s an important question: Which orange varieties are best for zesting, juicing, and cooking? 

For zesting, any variety will do, but to minimize waste it is wise to use the same orange as the one you will be juicing.  A general rule of thumb is that oranges with the most vibrant rind color generally procure the tastiest zest and yummiest juice. Valencias, Tangelos, Satsumas, Blood Oranges, Clementines, Sugarbelles, Honeybelles, and even Navels are all great choices—as long as they are sweet! For straight-up cooking, as in with your apple cider, you can’t lose with Navels or Blood Navels, as they hold their shape well and have the added bonus of being seedless.

The Recipes!

Here are some simple and delicious recipes for your holiday cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, and apple cider, all enhanced with the flavor appeal of oranges. These recipes were carefully chosen for nutrition, ease of preparation, and easy substitution with gluten-free and/or vegan alternatives. Not sure about whether you’re buying the best oranges for each recipe?  Don’t worry: here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we’ve got you covered: Premium Oranges 


In this recipe, you'll add a little "zest" to your cranberry sauce--literally! 


No worries about bland dressing with this recipe! Can substitute gluten-free dressing mix and vegan butter and bouillon if desired.


Mmmmm, ginger and orange together....


Like ginger, the spicy notes of cinnamon pair beautifully with oranges.

And of course, you can’t lose by garnishing your Thanksgiving turkey (or tofurkey) with slices of a color variety of delicious oranges.  Have a delicious Thanksgiving!

Additional Sources:


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Friday, April 23, 2021

The History of Orange Juice


Do you enjoy a sweet, tall, cold glass of orange juice with your breakfast? Most of us do. But have you ever wondered why this juice is associated with the first meal of the day?

How It Started 

Once upon a time, the concept of “orange juice,” let alone OJ at breakfast, was little known. Oranges were mostly something people peeled and ate, rather than juiced. 

In the 1900s, however, smart citrus growers realized how delicious freshly squeezed orange juice was and started advertising the idea to consumers. They even began marketing citrus juicers alongside oranges to make the process easier. Here's where the American love affair with orange juice began.

(As for the “with breakfast” part? That seems to have been a clever way to encourage people to drink OJ more regularly! Of course, the nutrition and flavor of orange juice also add a lot to breakfast.)


During World War II, the U.S. military got into the OJ business. We all need vitamin C for health, but the lemon juice crystals being served to the forces to provide this nutrient weren’t a big hit. Since oranges are a great source of vitamin C, the military "powers that be" came up with a way to can familiar and enjoyable orange juice. This drink wasn’t much like fresh juice (there's a reason we don’t see canned OJ today) but it was drinkable. Americans were now used to a new form of orange juice.

The Next Era: From Concentrate

In the late 1940s, there was a new innovation: orange juice from frozen concentrate. This became possible due to the rise of home refrigeration. Personally, I grew up in an era when this was the most popular way to drink the juice. I can remember making it for my mom as a child: you mixed a little cylinder of slushy-sweet OJ in a pitcher with water before breakfast. Orange juice concentrate is still around, but most people don’t buy it that way anymore.

And Today

Then, in the 1990s, food scientists figured out a way to make “not from concentrate” orange juice easily available year-round in cartons and jugs. You may remember this transition, because it was a big deal. Suddenly everyone had cartons of OJ in their fridges all the time. 

Although most of us prefer this type of orange juice to “from concentrate,” it’s worth noting that carton or jug orange juice is actually quite processed. The juice is pasteurized and stored with the oxygen removed, which reduces the flavor. To make it taste more “orangey,” companies then add a “flavor pack” (derived from oranges) back in before packaging. While this is technically still just orange juice, it does mean that the product has a noticeably different taste than fresh-squeezed.

The last “innovation” in orange juice to be mass-marketed? Bottled, freshly squeezed, unpasteurized juice. (Looks like we've come full circle.) 

This version of OJ tastes by far the closest to fresh-squeezed, because very little has been done to it. However, it's not always easy to find. It’s also expensive, and its shelf life is short...just a few days.  

Fresh...The Original

Over the years, depending on your age, you've likely tried and enjoyed some or maybe even all of these forms of orange juice. I’ve had every kind except canned myself. But for me, nothing beats the taste of fresh-squeezed. Frankly, it's not even close. 

It’s true that it takes a little bit of work to juice your own fresh, premium oranges. However, the results are definitely worth it. Having a great juicer will help. Check out our juicer reviews--and no matter what the source, enjoy your glass of sunshine.


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Friday, April 2, 2021

Can Oranges Help You Get Your Sense of Smell Back After COVID?

A case of COVID-19 can affect the body in so many ways, causing damage to the lungs, heart, and other systems. But did you know it can also cause people to lose their sense of smell? This problem can last for weeks to months.

In terms of long-term health consequences, losing your sense of smell might sound minor. However, when you stop to think about it, this sense is vital.

Sense of Smell Serves Many Functions

Of course, smell is central to how we experience food and eating. Over 70% of taste is actually smell! This is obvious when you think about how food just doesn't taste good when you have a bad cold. 

But smell also serves many other functions in our lives. The sense of smell is a built-in “safety feature” for our bodies. It stops us from eating food that's gone bad, alerts us to the presence of smoke and fire, and also lets us know about toxic odors.

Smell helps us bond with others, too, and can have a lot of emotional content. For instance, think about the smell of your grandma’s house, or your partner’s shirt. In fact, losing one’s sense of smell, a condition known as anosmia, can even cause depression and anxiety.

A Weird Trend To Try to Bring Sense of Smell Back

Given all this, it's concerning to learn that over 80% of people who develop COVID-19 experience anosmia, at least at first. One study found that 15% hadn’t recovered 60 days later. Five percent were still in this situation after 6 months!

This condition can be really frustrating. It’s this frustration that has led to the rise of a viral trend on TikTok involving the burning and eating of our favorite fruit…oranges.

The trend seems to have started with a video about a Jamaican remedy for loss of sense of smell. The video features someone roasting a whole orange over an open flame. He rips off the blackened peel, then mixes the soft, warm insides with brown sugar. 

This is the snack you're supposed to try to bring your sense of smell back. I have to admit: I didn't try the remedy. However, I did consider what it must be like. Given all the volatile oils in orange peel, this process must release a lot of strong-smelling orange oils into the air. The orange on the inside has also got to be sweet and fragrant. 

Does it Work?

Being of a scientific frame of mind, I also found myself feeling skeptical. Sure, that roasted orange must smell great. But what does the sugar do? Why does the sugar have to be brown? Why not just smell some citrus essential oils? 

I’m not the only one. In articles I read about the practice, experts and scientists were pretty skeptical. They point out that there's virtually no proof that this would be effective.

Not Completely Off Base

Yet...some also said there could be a grain of truth to this idea. Why? 

Although burning oranges and mixing them with sugar is probably silly, smelling strong and fragrant aromas might not be a bad idea for people with anosmia. As it turns out, doctors do recommend a process called “smell training” to help people in this situation. 

In smell training, people with a lost or damaged sense of smell try smelling the same few strong aromas daily to “retrain” the nose and brain. Strong, pleasant odors like mint, rose, and yes, oranges or citrus are often recommended.

Lost your sense of smell? If toasting your oranges and eating them with sugar sounds good to you, it certainly won’t hurt. If you really want to work on this, though, you might want to try “smell training" for real. There are support groups online to help.

In the meantime, the delicious, unmistakable scent of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and other citrus is always fresh, sweet, and enjoyable in any context. Yum. 

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

How Do You Choose a Good Orange?

Choosing fruit at the supermarket is one of those little tasks in life that can be more stressful than it needs to be. Is this fruit ripe? Is going to taste good? Will it be sweet?

Although we can’t solve all your fruit selection problems at Florida Fruit Shippers, we’re here to help you with one of them: picking out perfect oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and other citrus.

Of course, our first recommendation would be to order fresh citrus from us online. When you order from a specialty gift fruit shipper, you eliminate the guesswork. That’s because we hand-select all our fruit for the gift market. In fact, our fruit is the top 1%--the best of the best. You know you’re always getting the “cream of the crop.”

But of course,  sometimes you’ll need to buy your oranges at a regular store. If you’re in this situation, here are some quick and easy tips to help you end up with sweet, juicy, delicious citrus. Happy peeling and eating!

1. Know what’s in season

Most of us think of oranges and other citrus fruit as fall and winter fruit. This is basically true…but  there's a bit more to the story. (You may have noticed this on our site if you’re a regular customer.) Here’s a guide. Keep in mind that individual varieties may vary, and availability may also vary annually.

  • Navels:  November to May
  • Grapefruit: November to May
  • Mandarin “cuties”: variable
  • Honeybells: January-February only
  • Temple oranges: December-March
  • Tangerines: variable, but typically November-March
  • Valencias: March-September

2. Choose the right fruit for the right purpose and preference

You’re not going to ruin your day by eating a juicing orange, or juicing one meant for eating. But the facts are that some citrus is just made to be enjoyed “out of hand” (peeled and snacked on). Others are better used as juicers or prepared a bit more carefully.

For example, the navel orange is not ideal for juice. These oranges have a compound in the juice that can make it a bit bitter as it sits. Meanwhile, the Valencia orange is a little seedy and hard to peel. It's not as great for snacking. However, it’s super juicy and flavorful, and a classic choice for OJ.

To take another example, white grapefruit is perfect for tiki cocktails and tangy juice. Others prefer the super-sweet flavor of Ruby Red

Need more info on varieties? Read our Buyers’ Guide!

3. Do a visual

They say we “eat with our eyes,” and of course this is certainly true for fruit. Everyone prefers beautiful citrus! 

However, we do have some words of caution here. Keep in mind that a super-bright orange may sometimes be dyed. Yuck! 

What’s more, a bit of green color on an orange is not a bad thing. This is because citrus can and does sometimes experience a process known as "regreening." 

This happens when oranges that had been fully orange become a bit green again due to warm temperatures. Some say these fruit are actually sweeter. (Remember, all citrus at market will be fully ripe. Oranges and other citrus do not ripen once off the tree.)

It’s also important to know that small brown spots and lines on citrus peel, known as scarring, are typically nothing to be concerned about. These minor marks are caused by fruit swaying on branches in the wind and rain.

4. Feel your fruit

Don’t be shy…pick up that fruit and feel it. A quality piece of citrus will be heavy for its size and will yield to gentle pressure. It should not be overly hard, and never mushy. 

A “puffy” airy fruit is likely to be dry and of low quality, although there are a few “zipper skinned” fruit that naturally have a loose skin of this kind, such as the satsuma.

5. Take a sniff

Yes, now we’re telling you to smell the fruit. You may feel a bit silly, but a ripe and delicious orange, grapefruit or tangerine should have a sweet and inviting aroma. 

A lack of fragrance is concerning (is it bland?) and you never want to smell a winey, off, or rotten scent. Some even suggest selecting individual fruit with your eyes closed!

We hope these tips will help you pick out the oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits of your dreams. Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

How are Oranges Harvested?

If you are from Florida or have ever driven a long distance through the state, maybe you’ve been lucky enough to pass though some of our beautiful orange groves when they were in blossom. The fragrance of those flowers when they're all in bloom is like nothing else in the world. I’ve even heard it said that it’s what we smell when we enter heaven!

Although the sight of these groves may be familiar to some, few of us are likely to ever have seen an orange grove being harvested. It’s not something you’re likely to catch sight of, in part because workers are quite efficient and it actually happens quite fast. Check out this video of orange pickers at work:

In many ways, citrus picking hasn’t changed all that much from how it’s been done for generations. First we wait until the oranges are ripe and in peak condition, since citrus does not ripen any further once it's off the tree. This isn’t just a matter of “looking” or even of tasting, though of course we do taste the fruit to check on its condition. In fact, this is done using a scientific process. We assess both the sweetness and the acidity of the fruit and determine that ratio is just right.

Out in the Groves

When things are in perfect balance, the pickers go out into the orange groves with ladders, place them against the trees or stand them up near the trees, and quickly remove the ripe fruit, using ladders when needed. Pickers wear special waist or shoulder bags to make it easy to harvest and keep on picking. When a bag of citrus is full, the orange picker empties it into a larger tub or basket, and then small open vehicles (called “goats”) bring the fruit to packinghouses or trucks.

By Hand or With Machines?

In more recent years, innovators have also developed mechanical orange harvesters that shake the fruit off the trees, reducing labor costs. However, these don’t work perfectly in many cases. Orange groves are not like vegetable fields that get replanted every rear; rows and trees may be irregular, and the work is not easy to standardize. Mechanical harvesters can damage the delicate fruit and trees.

Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, our oranges and other citrus are always hand-picked. While mechanical harvesters have their place due to their increased efficiency, beautiful gift oranges, tangerines, honeybells, and grapefruit like ours require a little more tender loving care to keep them in perfect condition. We also want to be able to look over the fruit to make sure it meets our standards. Nothing substitutes for the personal touch.

How to Pick if You Have Your Own Trees

If you’re lucky enough to have your own citrus tree or trees, the process to harvest the fruit goes like this. First you’ll want to make sure that the fruit is ripe; taste a few fruit to make sure they are sweet and juicy. You’ll want to start this as soon as they color up, but also remember that color is not always a good indicator of ripeness with citrus. A little cold weather is said to sweeten citrus, but it can also harm the ripe fruit if it gets too cold, so if you live in an area that freezes, be cautious. You wouldn’t want to lose the whole crop.

To pick, use a gentle twisting motion; you don’t want to “plug” the fruit. What do we mean by “plug”? That’s when the “end” of the orange comes off when you pick and leaves a little hole at the top of the fruit, exposing a little bit of the interior. This isn’t a disaster, but it does mean your fruit won’t keep long.

The biggest problem you may have at harvest as a home grower is reaching the fruit on taller trees. There are special devices for this, but I notice many people just don’t pick those high-up fruit. This isn’t an issue at first (though citrus trees take some time to bear a good crop) but will become one as the tree gets older and bigger.

Don’t feel like “farming” your own, or don’t live somewhere where this is possible? No worries. You can always order some beautiful fresh citrus by the box, crate, or gift basket. The only “picking” you’ll do is picking out your favorite.

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Friday, February 19, 2021

Tea and Oranges: A Classic Pair


“…and she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China…”

If you’re a fan of folk music or remember the ‘60s, you may know these famous lines from Leonard Cohen’s song Suzanne. There’s something about the line that feels mysterious and delightful. Tea and oranges are both simple but wonderful treats that humankind has been enjoying for generations, and there has long been a lucrative worldwide trade in both. In a lot of ways, they just seem to “go” together…and for many years, in many ways, they have.

Oranges, Tea, and...Everything

One can buy tens, hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of loose-leaf teas and tea bags with oranges as one of their flavors, or the primary flavor. One thing I’ve noticed about the sweet, fresh taste and scent of oranges is that they seem to go with almost everything. I have seen tea flavored with orange and: cloves, cinnamon, ginger, passionfruit, peach, lemon, licorice, hibiscus, mint, lemongrass, apple, lavender, vanilla, and schizandra berries (don’t ask me what those are), to name a few.

Healing Powers?

Part of the appeal may be that orange tea feels healing. Orange tea of one variety or another is often suggested as a cure for the common cold, sore throats, the flu, and so one. Orange peel is a natural decongestant and is healthy for us, too—it’s full of micronutrients and antioxidants. To brew a cold-busting orange tea, boil orange peels on the stove and add your choice of other fragrant and health-boosting ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, or turmeric, and serve with honey. Ahhh.

Delicious Orange Tea Treats

Of course, sometimes “tea with oranges” is purely a culinary delight. Have you heard of “Russian tea”? While tea is a major part of Russian culture, the "Russian tea" made popular here in the US doesn’t bear much, if any, resemblance to the strong and often smoky tea consumed in that culture. This cozy hot drink became popular in the southern US in the '60s and '70s and is often associated with church cookbooks and church gatherings; it usually contains black tea, orange juice or orange peel, and spices like cinnamon and cloves. There are even some “instant” versions out there that include Tang! (Remember Tang? Yikes.)

I've learned of another treat that combines jasmine tea with orange juice. Jasmine tea, if you’ve never had it, is a wonderfully delicate tea that combines tea with the indescribably haunting fragrance of jasmine flowers. Made by layering drying tea leaves with jasmine blossoms, the tea is very special. This drink plays off the floral and sweet flavors of the tea, and is served either hot or cold. I can imagine this being really wonderful with freshly squeezed and strained juice.

Let’s not forget about orange iced tea, a classic for good reason. Often associated with the south, this drink may be made by brewing one of the many “orange teas” previously mentioned, by adding fresh orange slices to regular black iced tea, or by combining iced tea with orange juice. Sometimes mint is included to make the flavor even fresher. No matter how you prepare it, the addition of fresh orange flavor to this delicious drink is perfection.

So what’s the story with the “tea and oranges” in Cohen’s song? I was delighted to learn that the tea mentioned is apparently one that my own mother has enjoyed for years, Bigelow’s Constant Comment. Many decades ago, the family behind this tea discovered an old recipe that included orange peel and warm spices, and gave it that name because of the “constant comments” they got on its delicious flavor. The rest, as they say, has been history for this classic pair.

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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions with Healthy Citrus


Every January, about 50% of us make New Year’s resolutions…and of those, a high percentage are about eating healthier and getting shape. I know I’ve made my share of these over the years. As for this year, with COVID-19 going on? Yikes…no comment on the need, and the reasons for it!

The problem with resolutions like these is that we all start out with great intentions, but life has a habit of getting in the way. For change to really happen, we have to break habits and build new ones. This can be really hard because we’re so used to our old ways.

How to Make it Work  

So how can we make it work? According to experts, one method is to avoid focusing so much on those big, long-term outcomes. Instead, once you’ve got a goal in mind, try putting your effort into simpler daily tasks.

So, let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to turn your bad eating habits around and lose 30 pounds. That’s great, but lofty, and will take a while to achieve. You may get discouraged along the way because the “mountain” is hard to climb. To make your goal more manageable, aim for some simpler daily steps. One new habit you could try is to eat one more serving of fruit every day.

Fruit: A Weight Loss Helper

Did you know fruit may be able to help you lose weight, while also being really healthy for you? Of course, for those of us with a sweet tooth, it’s easy to see how fruit provides natural sweetness without all the issues of refined sugar.

But there’s more to it than that. Fruit is nutrient-dense, meaning it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, while also being low in calories. Its high fiber and water content can help us feel full and assist in weight control. In fact, oranges and other citrus are especially good at this! They score high on something called the “satiety index” that rates how filling a food is compared to its caloric value.

If we may be so bold, it’s citrus season right now. Why not try making some easy and delicious habit change by eating more of this healthy, satiating fruit? We do have one piece of advice: stick to the whole fruit. Juice does not have the same benefits due to its lack of healthy fiber. We’re sharing some ideas and recipes below. Happy New Year!

Eat Healthy This New Year with Citrus: Here’s How

--Pair a tangerine with a hardboiled egg for a total power snack

--Broil a grapefruit with a bit of brown sugar and top with creamy Greek yogurt for a healthy dessert 

--Top your salad with orange or tangerine sections and almonds and increase its nutrition and flavor

--Dip orange or tangerine sections in a bit of melted dark chocolate for an easy and healthy dessert

--Serve a multi-citrus salad with supremed citrus of all kinds and a mint dressing

--Enjoy delicious fresh seafood served with citrus salsa   

--Top Greek yogurt with citrus sections, chopped pistachios and cardamon

--Enjoy these delicious and beautiful shrimp-grapefruit-avocado skewers 

--Delight in a healthy quinoa salad with chicken, and citrus 

--Serve fresh citrus fennel slaw on the side with your meal 

--Spread a whole grain cracker with low fat cheese and top with an orange section


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