Sunday, December 20, 2020

15 Cozy Ways to Enjoy Citrus During the Holidays

For most of us, no time of the year feels more festive and “right” for citrus than the winter and holiday season. Why is that? Well, here are some reasons:

--Citrus is a winter fruit! (And aren’t we lucky that it is?) It’s at its fresh and juicy best down here in Florida right when it’s coldest and dreariest in chillier parts of the world.
--Citrus has a historic association with Christmas traditions. You might be familiar with the very old and fun tradition of putting an orange in the toe of a Christmas stocking, for instance! In Germany, children receive oranges (along with sweets and nuts) in their shoes on December 6th—St. Nicholas’s Day.
--Citrus is traditionally and deliciously used in holiday recipes. It goes so well with many holiday flavors, including roasted meats, spices, and nuts.
--Citrus is gorgeous and looks beautiful with decorations.
--Citrus has long been a traditional holiday gift, especially for those of us lucky enough to live in Florida.
--The freshness and healthfulness of citrus just “feels right” at this time of year, especially around New Year’s when many of us are trying to recover from all that holiday food.

We thought we’d make a fun list of some of the ways to enjoy citrus during the winter season. We're sure you can think of others to add!

1. Heat up some mulled cider or mulled wine

It’s easy and fun to enjoy these on cold nights using homemademulling spices including dried orange peel. This is a really easy and fun little gift to whip up. Or try this cranberry-orange mulled wine, made with Cabernet sauvignon, brandy, spices, and fresh- sliced oranges. Perfect for celebrating.

2. Make your own homemade orange liqueur or orange vodka

We featured these two projects on our blog a while ago and it’s been one of our most popular entries. Very easy, fun, and a unique gift!

3. Roast your turkey with citrus

citrus brine or citrus roasted turkey adds brightness and flavor to poultry. Try it this year if you haven’t before!

4. Craft homemade decorative garlands out of dried orange slices

These give your home a lovely rustic and organic look, and are simple and inexpensive to make. 

5. Candy some orange peel for a traditional treat

This tasty candy is a little more involved than some of the other recipes we’ve featured on the site, but it’s worth it! If you really love oranges, you’ve got to try making these.

6. Make a simple citrus simmer pot

It’s so easy to put on a simple simmer pot of oranges, cinnamon sticks and other spices to fragrance your home (and add some warmth and humidity, if it’s cold and dry).  Everything will smell like Christmas!

7. Decorate with citrus

There are many ways to use the natural beauty of citrus to enhance the look of your home at the holidays. You can create ornaments and garlands using dried orange slices or just use citrus, pine boughs, candles, ornaments, beautiful cloths, natural items, or whatever works for you. The beauty of nature is hard to surpass.

8. Make a traditional cranberry-orange sauce

My family serves a cold cranberry-orange relish, but I also like a cooked cranberry-orange sauce. Either way you do it, it's better than the kind in the can (okay, we know some of you love it!)

9. Make fun holiday name tags using citrus

Small tangerines or Page oranges tagged with name cards (wrap the fruit in pretty tissue paper, then tie with decorative twine and attach the tag) make for gorgeous named settings, with a small gift built in.

10. Of course, bake cookies using orange flavors!

Some of our favorites include cranberry-orange pinwheels, orange-almond biscotti , and Italian orange-ricotta cookies.

11. Create these simple citrus sugars and salts

Take just a short amount of time to make these. Then put them in pretty jars for gift to family and friends. You’d be surprised by how they elevate dishes from basic to gourmet.

12. Make a delicious-smelling citrus skincare scrub

If your giftees are more into beauty than goodies, make them this very easy skincare scrub. No weird ingredients, and it will bring out anyone’s natural glow.

13. Craft an old-fashioned orange pomander

Used to make rooms or drawers smell wonderful , the pomander is an old and fun tradition. Why not try making one yourself this year? 

14. Bake a loaf of cranberry-orange bread

A favorite in my family and often shared at Christmas, this easy quick bread is a classic. 

15. Whip up a seasonal citrus cocktail or mocktail

At a time of festive drinks and gatherings, this is an obvious choice. We’ve often featured delicious drinks made from citrus on our site—here’s a great list of citrus and cocktails and mocktails.

Happy holidays to you and yours from all of us at Florida Fruit Shippers. Enjoy the flavors of the season.





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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Top 10 Ways to Eat Grapefruit

In my family, it just isn’t Christmas morning without grapefruit. I’m not sure where this tradition started, but it’s been going on for years. After the stockings have been opened, we all look forward to a special Christmas bread (it’s tricky to make, but delicious), served with halved grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar on top.

This might be the way you grew up eating grapefruit—as a breakfast fruit that required a little bit of work for each bite. But there are lots of ways to enjoy these big, juicy, beautiful fruits. Let’s rank the top 10.

10. Grilled

This preparation is similar to broiling, but you have to admit that it seems more fun. You simply slice the fruit, top with a sugar mixture, and throw it on the grill. Serve with fish or chicken or on ice cream.

9. In salsa

What, grapefruit salsa? Heck, yes. If you’ve never had a fruit salsa, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try this one, which includes grapefruit, avocadoes, cucumbers, cilantro and lime. You can eat this with fish or corn chips.

8. In a savory salad

Like other citrus, grapefruit also can be used to great effect in savory salads. One classic you may not know if you’re not from a warmer climate is the delectable combo of grapefruit and avocado, which just works. It’s also delicious on dark green salads with nuts and cheeses.

7. With seafood

Grapefruit also harmonizes beautifully with seafood, such as shrimp, crab, salmon and other fish. Try these shrimp with grapefruit glaze today and live a little bit of the Florida lifestyle.

6. In a cake

There are lots of desserts out there that feature grapefruit, but grapefruit cake comes up over and over again, and for good reason. The most common versions I see are a glazed poundcake (sometimes also made with yogurt) or a fancy frosted layer cake—there is a famous one called the Brown Derby grapefruit cake that looks delectable.

5. Halved, topped with sugar, and put under the broiler

This is quite easy, and a little bit exciting. Just halve the fruit, slice the bottoms off (to make them more stable), top with raw or brown sugar, and run under the broiler or flame with a crème brulee torch. Some people like to add other toppings, like a bit of salt, red pepper flakes, or herbs.

4. Peeled, pithed and eaten out of hand

How do you easily peel and eat the sweet, juicy sections of a grapefruit without the white pith and membrane? There are actually several ways. The basic idea is to remove the outside peel, take off as much pith as possible, then use a knife to help you pop out the segments and leave the membrane behind. Here’s one tutorial.

3. Halved and in a bowl

The classic. Just cut your grapefruit down the middle and scoop out the halved segments. I’ve always just used a little knife to make the segments easier to get out, but there are some fun tools out there if that is up your alley. Have you ever tried a grapefruit spoon? What about a grapefruit knife? If you love to eat grapefruit this way, check out these reviews of the best options for these tools!

2. Juiced

We can’t forget one of the most obvious uses for this big, juicy fruit. There is something so refreshing about grapefruit juice, and it also tastes amazing when mixed with other juices or sparkling water. Ruby red grapefruit juice is my favorite, but some prefer white grapefruit juice, including tiki drink lovers. There are many wonderful grapefruit juice cocktails.

1. In a fruit salad

Grapefruit mixes so well with other citrus or other winter fruit to make a gorgeous and stunning fruit salad. We think it goes especially well with kiwi, pomegranate seeds, blackberries, and pineapple. It also harmonizes well with some fun flavors like mint and ginger. To prepare grapefruit for a fruit salad, try supreming it.

Looking for a source for quality grapefruit? Florida Fruit Shippers sells some of the most delicious, juicy, sweet grapefruit around. You won't be disappointed.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Why Orange Juice is Having a Moment in 2020

When you were a child, did you eat a full breakfast most mornings? Cereal, buttered toast...maybe fried or scrambled eggs….or even French toast or pancakes dripping with syrup? Alongside that breakfast, I bet there was usually a cold glass of orange juice.

As times have changed and we’ve gotten busier, this kind of full breakfast has become a bit less common. It’s more typically something we enjoy on weekends or when we go out to breakfast or brunch. Often, we take pleasure in it on vacation. (Admit it--you like helping yourself to that generous hotel breakfast bar!)

Orange Juice: For Good Mornings

However, I bet it’s still the case that many of the really “good mornings” of your life have started with a hot fresh breakfast and a glass of cold orange juice. You see, it’s often the case that when we sit down to a well-prepared morning meal like this, we are in no hurry. We may be eating with friends or extended family, on a trip, or at the very least, off of work. 

...And When We're Not Feeling Our Best

On the other side of the coin, we also turn to “OJ” when we’re not feeling our best, or are thinking about boosting our immunity. We all know that oranges and other citrus fruits are high in vitamin C (fact time: one 8-ounce glass of orange juice provides 80-200% of your US RDA for vitamin C, with freshly squeezed juice providing more!) While it’s also great to peel and eat an orange, sometimes nothing beats the refreshment of orange juice. It seems to have a special power to make us feel better, restore energy, and just give that sense that we’re taking good care of ourselves. (Freshly squeezed is always the best!)

2020: OJ Has Been On Our Minds

With this in mind, it may come as no surprise that orange juice, oranges, and grapefruit have enjoyed a surge in popularity during COVID-19. Orange juice sales rose 25-50% during the early months of the pandemic.  Experts think there’s more than one reason for this. First, of course, when we’re concerned about illness, we buy more of a product we associate with protecting our health. While nothing is known to prevent covid, experts do recommend that we be sure to consume plenty of vitamins C and D to keep our immune systems strong. 

But it’s more than that. Orange juice is also a comfort food (or drink). It just makes us feel better...cared for, maybe. What’s more, in one of those tiny upsides of the pandemic, it turns out that those of us who are working at home are eating longer and more relaxed breakfasts these days. 

Enjoy That Moment

Yep, it’s true: when you don’t have to rush out the door at 6:30 am, you might just sit down to a breakfast that’s a little bit like those childhood ones you once enjoyed. Maybe it’s just eggs and toast (is it sourdough toast from bread you made yourself, though? It is at my house!), or maybe you’re enjoying something a little more elaborate. 

There’s no doubt that we’re living in challenging times; things have been hard, often very hard, for so many. My approach is to be sure to take joy in any little positive change that these topsy-turvy times have brought us. If that change is a better morning’s breakfast, I say, have at it. If you can, take a longer moment to enjoy your scrambled eggs, your hot coffee, and yes, your sweet, cold glass of orange juice.

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Friday, October 30, 2020

How Do You Store Oranges?


Do you ever stress out about buying and storing fruit? I know I can’t be the only one whose strawberries like to go bad the second I turn my back, or whose peaches never seem to get ripe at all.

This kind of waste and confusion can be so frustrating. Fortunately, oranges are one of the easiest and longest-lasting fruits out there. Happily for us, citrus isn’t picked until it’s at the peak of perfection. This means you never have to worry about whether it’s ripe or not. Citrus also stays fresh, perfect and sweet for a good long time. What a relief!

Do you still have questions about storing your oranges, tangerines and grapefruit? We’re here for you. Read on to learn more.

Q. Should I keep my citrus in the fridge or at room temperature?

A. Either one works, but your citrus will last longer if stored in the refrigerator. If you prefer to leave your beautiful fruit out to admire, know that it should stay fresh for about a week. This is a pretty long time for fruit!

If you’d like to preserve your citrus longer, store it in the refrigerator. Really fresh oranges should last in the fridge for two, three, or even four weeks! For more longevity, keep them in a net bag or perforated bag for better airflow.

Q. If I keep my citrus at room temperature, what conditions are best?

A. Oranges like airflow, so remove them from any plastic bags and put them in a beautiful bowl for all to admire. Citrus will keep best out of heat or direct sunlight. If you have a really big bowl of citrus, you may want to rearrange them every so often.

Q. What if I slice my citrus? How long is it good for then?

A. Once you cut fruit and expose the interior to air, it does have a shorter shelf life. If you slice or section your citrus, put it in the fridge and eat it within 3 to 4 days.

Q. How long does cut or peeled citrus keep at room temperature?

A. Food safety experts generally advise that any cut or peeled fruit should be eaten or refrigerated once it has been at room temperature more than two hours.

Q.  Can I freeze citrus?

A. Yes! If you would like to freeze some oranges, tangerines or grapefruit for later, you can peel and section them, put them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, and then put them into sealed freezer bags. You can also try freezing citrus sections in a 4:3 water and sugar solution. Just boil the water and sugar till the sugar dissolves; then place the orange sections in the liquid, cool, place in containers, and freeze. This will keep up to a year.

Q. Can I freeze orange juice?

A. Definitely! This is a great way to quickly preserve your citrus. Simply “squeeze and freeze.”

Q. What are some other good things to do with a big box of citrus?

A. We’re glad you asked! There’s really no such thing as “too many oranges” (or tangerines, or grapefruit) in our humble opinions. If it seems like you have a few too many to eat out of hand, we have so many great ideas for cooking with citrus, making delicious drinks with citrus, baking with citrus, and even decorating with citrus.

Citrus keeps so well, and its quality is so reliable. You’re bound to think of a hundred great ways to use it in your home and kitchen. We also happen to think it looks beautiful as a centerpiece in your dining room or kitchen. Why not order some today?

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Top 10 Most Popular Orange Juice Cocktails

 Orange juice is an essential drink mixer, adding freshness, sweetness, and juicy acidity to cocktails. It's a familiar flavor that everyone loves and feels at ease with. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the most popular and well-known orange juice-based cocktails, from sophisticated classics to fun ‘70s party drinks. You're sure to find something you'll love.

Just remember, freshly squeezed juice from quality oranges is always your best choice. While the grocery stuff may work in a pinch, the truth is that most supermarket juice can’t hold a candle to the pure, clean flavor of juice you squeeze at home. 

10. Orange Blossom

This classic and well-balanced cocktail has a bit more history than some of the others here; it’s believed to have been invented during prohibition. This can be a brunch cocktail, but be careful—it contains two forms of alcohol.

How to Make It:

1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz gin
1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice

Shake in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and strain into a martini or highball glass.

9. Orange Crush

This cocktail got its start in the beach town of Ocean City, Maryland, and now has something of a cult following in that area and beyond. Though the recipe sounds simple, devotees swear there’s something irresistible about it. Fresh orange juice is 100% necessary to this drink! That’s the “crush” in the name.

How to Make It:

  • 2 oz orange vodka
  • 2 oz triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau
  • Juice of one orange
  • Lemon-lime soda

Mix vodka and triple sec in a pint glass filled with ice. Add fresh juice and top with soda.

8. Madras

This simple twist on the screwdriver adds cranberry juice for more complexity and interest. The drink dates back to the '50s and is popular in Boston. For a variation, sub in rum for vodka—that’s a Corsair.

Some history: Madras is a city in India, now known as Chennai, celebrated for its production of lightweight plaid fabrics in bright colors. The drink gets its name from the contrast of bright colors.

How to Make It:

  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • 3 oz cranberry juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

Pour orange juice into an ice-filled highball glass. Add vodka. Slowly drizzle in cranberry juice. Garnish with lime wedge or cherry.

7. Painkiller

Ever had a pina colada? A painkiller is a citrus twist on that tropical classic. Invented in the Virgin Islands in the '70s, this tasty tiki treat is arguably even tastier than its better-known sibling. Don’t leave off the nutmeg garnish.

How to Make It:

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz cream of coconut (don’t substitute coconut milk)

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; strain into a large glass, over ice if desired. Top with freshly grated nutmeg,

6. Alabama Slammer

A throwback from the 1980s, this fruity drink is made with various liqueurs and orange juice and is a popular tailgate drink in the South, especially at University of Alabama football games. To improve the quality of your Slammer, look for a higher-end sloe gin made with natural fruit (some of the cheap ones may remind you of cough syrup).

How to Make It:

  • 1 oz Southern Comfort or bourbon
  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • 1 oz sloe gin
  • 2-3 oz freshly squeezed orange juice

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass over ice and garnish with an orange wedge.

5. Sex on the Beach

This drink was born in the '80s when “naughty” names for cocktails were popular. According to legend, it was invented by a savvy bartender to sell peach schnapps. Some variations include pineapple juice as well as orange juice.

How to Make It:

  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • 1 oz peach schnapps
  • 2-3 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2-3 oz cranberry juice

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass, pint glass or other large glass filled with ice.

4. Fuzzy Navel

This one also hails from the ‘80s and was a classic club drink of that era. It’s a bit unusual in that we actually know the name of the person who invented it—Ray Foley, a famous bartender, who went on to aggressively market the drink around the county. Rap fans may know it by its other name, the Cold Medina. For a variation, add some lemon juice or champagne.

How to Make It:

  • 3 oz peach schnapps
  • 3 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
Mix schnapps and orange juice in a highball glass with ice.

3. Tequila Sunrise

Popular in the 1970s, the tequila sunrise really does look like a sunrise in a glass. The Rolling Stones were famously fond of this drink, and of course the Eagles wrote a song named after it. To mix it up, sub in Southern Comfort for the tequila (a “Southern sunrise”) or blackberry brandy for the grenadine (a “tequila sunset”).

How to Make It

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 4 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ oz grenadine

Mix tequila and OJ in a highball glass with ice. Slowly pour syrup down the side of the glass; it will settle in the bottom for the sunrise effect. If desired, garnish with orange slice and cherry.

2. Mimosa

The classic “festive brunch” cocktail that’s been used to sell plenty of waffles and eggs, this sweet sparkler can be delicious, or not so great. Using dry sparkling wine and a fresh juice, mixing to order, and keeping both ingredients very cold will make for a spritely Mimosa. Upgrade your mimosa with a splash of St. Germain or with fresh tangerine juice.

How to Make It

  • Mix equal parts freshly squeezed orange juice and sparkling white wine in a champagne flute; serve cold. (Note: some prefer 2:1 wine and OJ)

1. Screwdriver

Almost everyone who’s ever had an orange juice cocktail has had a screwdriver. As with all of these juice-based drinks, the quality of your juice matters a lot. To change it up, try varying the juicing oranges in your screwdriver and “taste testing.” You can also try a flavored vodka, such as vanilla.

How to Make It

  • 1 ½ oz vodka
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice to top, about 4-5 ounces

Pour vodka into an ice-filled highball glass and top with juice. That’s it!

We hope you'll like trying out these orange juice-based cocktails. When made with fresh juice, they can even make your nighttime indulgence high in vitamin C! Enjoy.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Using the Whole Orange

Have you ever been lucky enough to buy or receive some citrus fruit that was so fresh, beautiful, and perfect that it felt like a crime not to use every bit of it? We definitely have. And we’re not the only ones. In fact, over the centuries, wise chefs, housewives, and bakers beyond measure have recognized that every part of the citrus fruit is precious and delicious.

Flavor and Nutrition: Not Just Inside

This idea has a very sound basis when you know a little more about citrus. While the interior of the fruit is certainly sweet and juicy, a great deal of valuable flavor actually resides in the peel. It’s full of intensely flavorful citrus oil. In fact, these oils impart most of the familiar fragrance we associate with oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, and so on.

Not only that, citrus peel is extremely nutritious—a powerhouse, if you will. Did you know that orange peel has 3 times as much vitamin C as the flesh of the orange? It’s also high in the plant compounds known as polyphenols, which are under serious study for their potential to prevent cancer. Citrus peel is high in vitamins as well.

Pith and Seeds?

The “white stuff” (technically known as pith) has health benefits too! Pith is high in pectin, which contains both valuable fiber and a substance known as prebiotics. Prebiotics encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria—the “good guys”—that boost our immune system and keep our overall health strong.

What about citrus seeds? While not especially delicious, citrus seeds are nontoxic and won’t harm you. You may not know that they also have a traditional use in making marmalade. Like pith, seeds contain a lot of pectin, used as a preserves thickener. Here’s a fascinating page on how to use citrus seeds to thicken jams and jellies.

But back to using the whole fruit…every last luscious bit. If you are the proud owner of some oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits that you’d like to use every part of, read on. These recipes use the entire fruit every time, to delicious effect. No waste....all taste!

Recipes That Use The Whole Fruit

First, marmalade—perhaps the most well-known “dish” to use whole citrus fruit. This customizable recipe allows you to adjust to the type of citrus you have and to tweak the flavor. I think rosewater-grapefruit sounds pretty intriguing!

Cakes using the whole orange are quite popular, for good reason. In this first option, 2-3 fresh oranges are pureed, peel and all, then mixed with butter, flour, sugar, spices, eggs, and sour cream and baked up into a delicious looking bundt cake.

In this second version, two large navel oranges are boiled to soften them and gentle the flavor a bit, then mixed with ground almonds, sugar, and eggs. This very moist and well-loved recipe is also gluten-free!

Here’s another way to use whole citrus in a cake—a tangerine upside-down cake! In this recipe, six tangerines are sliced, skin and all, to make a gorgeous caramelized topping to a rich cake.

Interested in something more savory? You’ll find many great options involving roasted whole citrus and meats. This beautiful citrus and herb roasted chicken, which uses 2 whole oranges and 2 whole lemons, brings the flavors of a Mediterranean countryside to your home.

This showstopper roasted salmon is broiled topped with two whole sliced tangerines and one sliced blood oranges.

Finally, for a surprisingly simple yet complex dish, why not try roasting orange slices? They will get a bit caramelized and make a great bite alongside bread and cheese. This isn’t something people are likely to have had before.

You can also try mixing citrus types and even sprinkling with herbs.

How about a chocolate roasted orange tart?

Enjoy every bit of your citrus dishes. When citrus is this good—we should eat it all!

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Monday, March 30, 2020

The World's Fanciest Fruit

What culture most appreciates fruit? It's a hard question to answer. Humans have loved fruit since …well, since before we were human. 

Many cultures and nations have a fruit that's central to their identity. Think of dates in the middle East, mangoes in India, kiwis in New Zealand, the wine grapes of Europe, and so on. The orange is, of course, the state fruit of Florida. It's key to who we are here! 

You Paid What for That Melon?

But there is one country that venerates fruit in a truly unusual way. That county is Japan. In this island nation, fruit isn’t just enjoyed; it's adored. Both taste and appearance are extremely important to Japanese fruit-lovers, who'll pay top dollar for fruit that they consider perfect. When we say top dollar, we're talking some high numbers: $30 for an apple, $250 for a mango, and up to thousands of dollars for one melon.

In Japanese culture, very special fruit like this is often gifted to others as a sign of respect and appreciation. It may be delivered as a housewarming present, brought to a party, or sent to someone who is ill. You might also buy it for yourself as an indulgent “just for me” experience. In a way, it’s similar to fancy chocolates or a very nice bottle of wine. 

The purchasing experience for fruit like this is also very luxurious. The stores resemble jewelry stores, with the food gorgeously displayed and lit up. It's no workday trip to the grocery store.

Japan's Citrus Culture

Of course, not every piece of fruit eaten in Japan’s fruit-loving culture is at quite this level of luxury. Did you know that Japan is a very citrus-oriented society? In fact, the country’s relatively mild climate is well-suited to growing citrus. Citrus has also been a key part of Japan’s light and delicate cuisine for centuries.  

There are literally hundreds of special varieties of Japanese citrus. The best growing region is around the Seto Inland Sea, a protected bay with beautiful scenery and stunning mountain views. But Floridians would recognize the familiar dark green leaves and sweet-smelling flowers of citrus trees all over the nation. Here are just a few of Japan’s most loved and interesting citrus varieties.

The banpeiyu is a type of pomelo (similar to a grapefruit) with a mild and tangy flavor. These are notable due to the large size—up to 10 pounds! It's traditional to float these on steaming hot baths.

The mikan is the most popular eating citrus in Japan. Here in the US, you may know it as a satsuma. These fruits are very sweet, mostly seedless, cold-hardy, and easy to peel.  They’re much like a tangerine.

The beni-madonna is a new luxury orange with super-soft flesh, bred to be delightfully sweet-sour and succulent for a wonderful dessert eating experience. 

The Yuzu is hugely important to Japanese savory cuisine and has a tart flavor unlike other citrus. Yuzu juice is often combined with soy sauce in savory dishes.
Yuzu martini

The dekopon has a big bump or bell at the top, and resembles a honeybell. Although it's also a seedless, easy-peeling, sweet fruit, it is not a tangelo and has a different parentage.

There's so much more to learn and know about the history of citrus and citrus cuisine in Japan and the amazing story of Japan’s beautiful gift fruit.  Explore here: OishiSo Japan: Citrus 

Although we don’t spend thousands on a melon in this country, it's still true that we consider sending beautiful and delicious gift fruit a thoughtful and considerate way to honor and thank others. There’s a reason this tradition endures and crosses national boundaries. Consider a fruit gift from Florida Fruit Shippers today.

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Friday, March 13, 2020

What is an Orangery?

If you’re fortunate enough to live in Florida, then you probably know that citrus trees don’t just produce delicious fruit—they’re absolutely beautiful. The leaves are “classic” in appearance (shiny and dark green) and the trees can be sculpted and pruned into attractive shapes. Not only that, the lovely little flowers give forth a heavenly fragrance when they bloom. Then there’s the rich and gorgeous appearance of the oranges when they come along.

So is it any wonder that throughout history, the wealthy and refined among us have taken to growing oranges and other citrus in their homes and gardens? In fact, they've often spent vast amounts of money  to keep these plants alive indoors.

Indeed, some of the most resplendent palaces of all time have featured special greenhouses dedicated exclusively to growing citrus. These structures are known as orangeries.

The History of Orangeries

In the 17th through 19th centuries, as citrus became a "trendy" fruit, orangeries became popular among the European aristocracy. These elaborate heated glass structures would be filled with small citrus trees, other types of fruit trees (such as banana and pomegranate trees) and tropical plants such as orchids. The orangery allowed homeowners to grow and keep plants that could not otherwise survive cooler climates. Of course, it also provided a beautiful, sunny retreat that made winter more bearable. It might even include a fountain, statuary, and seating.

Many orangeries also featured an elaborate “outdoor garden” as well, sometimes with a traditional maze. Some of these buildings and gardens can still be visited today. Notable examples still stand in the UK, Austria, Germany, and Sweden, among others.  One extremely famous and incredibly spectacular orangery can be toured at Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles in Paris. In the United States, George Washington grew lemons and oranges in a large orangery; though it burned down in 1835, it has been reconstructed for visitors.
Hanbury Hall,  Worcestershire,Orangery and Mushroom House, 2016, DeFacto, CC BY-SA 4.0

Orangeries Today

It is still possible to build an orangery today, and today we also have the technology to make these additions much more energy efficient. However, it is inarguable that they remain a luxury. Those of us living in warmer climates will probably just choose to grow citrus outdoors. Indeed, many climates will permit the keeping of potted dwarf citrus. In winter, bring the plants indoors, but be sure to keep them in a very sunny area for best results.

Citrus such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and tangerines are not just delicious, but possess a magical allure. The trees are so beautiful, their scent so intoxicating, and the fruit so delectable that it’s no wonder that the very rich and powerful wanted their own personal supply, especially since shipments from overseas could be unreliable and costly. No expense was spared to keep citrus close to hand, rather like a demanding pet.

These days, fortunately, it's much easier to purchase fresh and perfect citrus reliably by mail. Try some of our orangeshoneybells, grapefruit, or tangerines today—fit for a king, but for sale to all of us.

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Peeling Your Orange...Are You Doing it Wrong?

As grown adults, there are certain things that we feel confident that we know how to do, generally because we’ve been doing them for so long. Tying our shoes? Check. Making toast? Handled. Brushing teeth? Got it figured out. Peeling an orange? Yup.

Well…hold up a minute. Did you know that  in some people's opinion, the simple act of peeling an orange is not as simple as you think? Folks have some interesting ideas about alternate ways to go about this process. What you don’t know—and may have never even thought about! —may surprise you.

This video shows two "new" methods. In what I call the “roll it out” method, you simply slice the “north and south pole” ends off your orange, then slice into the orange and “roll out" the sections. 

Well, this is one of those tricks that works better on YouTube than in real life. I tried this method, and it pretty much failed with a tighter-skinned Valencia. It was okay with a looser-skinned mandarin, but they’re so easy to peel anyway that I don’t really get the point.

In the second, "cap" method, you score an orange around the equator, then slip a spoon or your thumb in to remove each half’s peel, like a cap. You can then place this peel “cap” back on. This  might be a cool way to send a whole orange in a lunch for a child who doesn’t know how to peel an orange or doesn’t like to peel them. But why not just peel and section like usual? The cap is cute, but I don't know how worth it this is.

Ever wanted to peel your orange in one long spiral piece? This video makes it look easier than it is, and my orange squirted me a little, but it does look really cool.

And this guy likes making his orange peels into little section "bowls" for the fruit. It's useful in some cases, perhaps, like when hiking?

One issue I see with most of these methods is that they tend to leave more pith behind on the fruit than “regular peeling.” (Of course, this will only happen if you are using fruit with significant pith. Some citrus, like mandarin oranges, have very little.) 

This brings me to some other “orange consumption” methods. Of course, pretty much all of us know that you can just take a whole orange and slice it into nice juicy sections with the peel on. Kids usually love this!

 Here’s a small refinement on that method that I use; I think it really make the slices super appealing (or is that a-peeling? Sorry).

Finally, there’s the ultimate way to remove citrus of all its “bits and parts”—supreming. This process has been around a very long time. It is really a great way to enjoy perfectly luscious citrus sections, devoid of any peel, pith, or fiber. If you want to try it, here’s a step-by-step tutorial using grapefruit.

And a video:

Welll, huh. Does this seem like a too much fuss about the simple act of orange peeling? I kind of think so too.  It's just not that complicated!

Fortunately, here at Florida Fruit Shippers, the majority of the fruit we sell is very easy to peel. That’s on purpose! As a seller of prime eating fruit, we know what folks like, and they like fruit that peels up nicely, like our premium Navels. So don’t worry too much about any of these fancy tricks. Though you can make your peel into a little “fruit cap” if you want to, that’s just for fun.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

10 of the World's Most Unusual Citrus

Here at Florida Fruit, we never get tired of learning about citrus—it’s such a unique, ancient and multifaceted fruit, with an incredibly rich history. Although we already knew about some of the unique citrus out there, we were truly amazed by some of the unusual and downright strange citrus we learned about when writing this piece.  Check out some of these fascinating fruits, and prepare to be astonished.

The Ponderosa Lemon

"World's largest lemons (Ponderosa)  (c) 2011 Boston Public Library, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Want to make an entire batch of lemonade…with just two lemons? With the Ponderosa, you might be able to. Although these citrus are actually a hybrid of a pomelo and a citron, they taste pretty much exactly like the lemons we all know and love…just WAY bigger. Ponderosas aren’t found much in stores, but if you live in a citrus-growing region, you may find someone who has one in their yard. One issue with the Ponderosa is that they’re very cold-sensitive.

The Kumquat

"Kumquat on the tree" (c) 2008 Oliver Dodd, CC-BY-SA 2.0

These little oblong fruit, approximately the size of a large olive, are pretty well-known to Floridians. However, I often find that those outside the state consider them sort of mythical or a bit of a joke fruit. What is so unusual about these is that you eat them whole—skin and all! In fact, the skin is quite sweet, almost sweeter than the inside. If you get the chance, try a candied kumquat, an old-timey Florida treat.

The Bergamot

"Bergamot" (c) 2013 Leslie  Seaton, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Ever enjoyed a hot cup of Earl Grey tea? Then you’ve savored the flavor of a bergamot, a yellow-green citrus that is believed to be a cross between a lime and a sour orange. The bergamot is too sour to eat out of hand, but has a unique and unusual fragrance that is distilled into an essential oil used in teas and perfumes. Bergamot oil is also used in Turkish delight candy and Turkish smokeless tobacco. Not your typical citrus!

The Finger Lime

Finger lime-juice vesicles (c) 2018  Ivan the Boneful CC-BY-SA 4.0

The first time I saw one of these, I wasn’t sure if it was a) real or b) a citrus at all. But it is, and they are (according to scientists). Native to Australia, the tiny lime “pearls” inside the skin pop in your mouth and are refreshingly acidic. This is one to surprise people with, for sure.

The Buddha’s Hand

We’ve featured the extremely unusual Buddha’s Hand here before due to its religious significance. This crazy-looking citrus has no juicy sections inside; instead, it’s pretty much all pith and rind. It is extremely fragrant and the zest is often candied. It may also be used to perfume clothes or rooms. When the “fingers” of the fruit are closed, it is said to resemble a praying Buddha’s hand and may be used as a religious offering.

The Citrus Bizarria

CitrusBizarria  (c) 2015 Hesperthusa, CC-BY-SA 2.0

This astonishing citrus looks like something out of a myth or legend, but it really exists. First discovered in the 1600s in Florence, Italy, these trees bear both Seville oranges and citrons on a single tree along with strange “mixed” fruit that look really weird and almost alien-like…a mixture of all kinds of citrus characteristics. The “bizarria” was thought to be lost to time until it was rediscovered by a garden caretaker in the 1970s.

The Blood Lime

Blood lime  (c) 2014 CSIRO CC-3.0

You may well have heard of, seen, or eaten the blood orange, which is orange on the outside but a striking red inside, but you probably have not encountered the blood lime—an amazing red inside and out! This is a small Australian lime that has a pretty typical lime flavor. It is a hybrid of the red finger lime and a Mandarin.

The Sour Orange

Marmalade made from the Seville orange

While not too popular in the US today, this ancient variety of orange was one of the first oranges grown and eaten and is still used in a dizzying variety of cuisines around the world, and especially in marmalade. Also called a Seville orange, the sour orange is very seedy, very sour, and extremely flavorful. You would never want to peel and eat one, but they still have great culinary value. 

The Sweet Lemon

First sour oranges…now sweet lemons? Yup. Sweet lemons, also called limettas,  look like lemons but taste rather like sweet limes and have almost no acidity. They are popular in India and the Middle East and can be peeled and eaten like an orange.

The Tangelo (Honeybell)

Wait…is a tangelo an unusual citrus? To some people it is! For one thing, that funny “bell” on the top of the fruit can strike those not familiar as pretty unexpected! For another, unless you live in Florida or shop at specialty markets, you may not have had a chance to try one. Even then, you may never have had a truly top-quality Honeybell…the ones that make it to the store often don’t fall into this category.

If you think this is the end of the story about weird, amazing, and unusual citrus…well, it definitely isn’t. There are lots more out there, from Japanese citrus that can survive when it’s 10 below, to mystical citrons considered holy, to pure black, inedible citrus.

Of course, most of us prefer the kind that taste delicious. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of those for you here at Florida Fruit Shippers. Like a touch of the unusual? We think you’ll love our Red NavelsHoneybells, or Sol Zests.

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