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!

Want to be notified when we post more articles? Sign up for our mailing list!

© 1996-2013 Vegetable Kingdom Inc., PO Box 530456, St. Petersburg, FL 33747 All rights reserved.
Florida Fruit Shippers® is a registered trademark of Vegetable Kingdom Inc.