Sunday, December 11, 2022

Add a Little Sol Zest to Your Life!

With the December holidays and shipping deadlines coming up very quickly, we like to help you think of fresh and unique gift ideas, fast! This time of year is exciting, but can also be taxing. How to reckon with keeping both your gift ideas and your energy levels feeling fresh, bright, and vibrant? 

Enter Sol Zest mandarins.

What are Sol Zest Mandarins?

Directly translated, "Sol Zest" means "Sun Zest." And what an apt name that is! Originally from the Jaffa region of Israel, they grow and ripen in bright, sunny climates just like here in Florida, literally harvesting the warmth and nourishment of the sun in their zest (rind) and flesh. While they have long been in Israel and are new to Florida, their genesis is not entirely clear. Many sources say that they are a hybrid between a Temple Orange and the Dancy Tangerine. However, this may be an oversimplified definition, as many hybrids were tested over a thirty year period to produce the Sol Zest we can enjoy today, and which many consider to be the ultimate mandarin. 

Kid-Friendly Citrus

Speaking of rinds, Sol Zest mandarins are incredibly easy to peel, making them an convenient treat for kids and adults alike. They are also seedless, tender, vibrantly orange colored, low-acid, sweet, and juicy (but not too juicy), making Sol Zest mandarins even more a-peeling to picky young eaters! They are the perfect size to throw into a bag or lunchbox; because of their easy-peel nature, lack of seeds, long shelf life, and other qualities, they are one of the easiest and tidiest citrus varieties to take on the go.

Sol Zest or Orri?

Sol Zest Mandarins have a few other names: Jaffa Orri, Orri Mandarin, Orri Tangerine, and Jaffa Mandarin.  The word "orri" is a version of the Hebrew word for "light," which is perfect for the season. When this remarkable fruit became licensed to growers in the United States so that Florida Fruit Shippers could offer them to you, the name "Sol Zest" was born, and some growers refer to them as Sol Zest Tangerines. In the citrus world, tangerines and mandarins are interchangeable terms. Just like oranges, these citrus varieties boast a whole slew of nutritional benefits such as high fiber, high antioxidant properties, and concentrated levels of vitamin C.

Bring On the Brix

The sweetness of fruit is determined by a unit called its degrees brix. As a fruit ripens, its ratio of sugar to fruit increases, and the amount of that sugar determines the sweetness of the fruit. To determine the degrees brix of a fruit, a small drop of juice from the flesh of the fruit is placed on a refractometer, pictured above. The reading on the refractometer is the number that determines the fruit's sweetness. Sol Zest mandarins consistently have a reading of 15 or higher, which is considered to be a mouth-watering level!

Ready to give the rare and wonderful treat of Sol Zest mandarins....and try some for yourself?  The growing season is very short and you won't find them in stores; they are only available here through early January. 


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