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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