Tuesday, December 20, 2022

'Tis the Season for the Senses (with Citrus)!

 Ahhh, the holidays: a feast for the senses! The sights, smells, tastes, sounds and textures of this time of the year are nothing short of delightful.  Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, where citrus fruits are always on our minds, we'd like to invite you on a tour of the senses this holiday season...citrus-style!


Who doesn't love the bright hues of citrus? From the rich orange hue of a Sol Zest Mandarin (available for only two more weeks) to the scrumptious flesh of a Deep Red Grapefruit or Cara Cara Red Navel (which, by the way, is about to come into season), citrus brightens up a home, office, or lunchbox. Set a bowl of oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits out on your dining room table for an instant hit of colorful, edible d├ęcor. Place a few wedges of Honeybells on the side of a pasta dish, or on top of a salad, for a pop of inviting color. Grate some zest into muffins, cakes, frostings, and breads instead of using artificially-colored sprinkles; orange rind retains its bright hue even after cooking!


The aromatherapy world has a lot to say about the smells of oranges and grapefruits. The natural, essential oils found in their rinds are packed with aromatic compounds that have been shown to lift the spirit, relieve stress, reduce anxiety, energize the mind, help alleviate pain, and they even have clinically-quantified antidepressant effects. And here's a fun fact that may be helpful if you're single and seeking a male partner on New Year's Eve: studies have shown that if you smell like a grapefruit, men perceive you to be six years younger than your chronological age! Alas, this trick doesn't work on women for some reason, but if you're seeking a paramour of the male persuasion, consider squeezing a few drops of fresh grapefruit juice on your neck or rubbing some grapefruit zest on your pulse points.


Taste is the sense we most associate with our fresh-off-the tree produce. After all, fresh citrus is both mouthwatering and delicious! According to experts, oranges and mandarins can have the following taste characteristics: sweet, sweet-tart, sweet-sour. Grapefruits, by comparison, tend to be much more tart or sour, with some slight bitterness and less sweetness. In general, all citrus types have some combination of sweet and tart/sour/bitter thanks to a combination of fruit sugars and citric acid.


What is the sound of a citrus fruit? No, this question is not meant to be a Zen koan. However, if you get into a quiet and mindful state while eating a piece of citrus fruit, you might notice the unique soft tones of removing the tender peel off of a mandarin, the liquidy release of a grapefruit segment as you scoop in your spoon, or the satisfying sound of a knife slicing a navel into serving wedges. And of course, we all know the satisfying sounds of kids (and even grownups) slurping up a juicy piece of fruit!


One of the very interesting things about citrus fruits is the contrast between the textures of their rinds and flesh. A wonderful activity to do with kids is to feel the bumpiness of an orange rind, describe it, and then compare it to the smooth and slippery feeling of the inside of the fruit. If there are seeds as in some citrus varieties, you can notice those too, describing the characteristics of each unique component of the fruit. While you're at it, invite your kids (or yourself) to do a mindfulness exercise with all five senses as you prepare to enjoy your fruit: What does the outside rind feel like? What color is it? Does it have a smell? What does it sound like to peel or slice your fruit? What color is the inside? What does it feel like? What does it smell like? And finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: how does it taste?  If it's from Florida Fruit Shippers, you can be sure it will be delicious!

May your senses alight this holiday season. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, from all of us!


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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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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Stormy Side of Florida Citrus

 Ahhh, Florida--the land of Mickey Mouse, sugar sand beaches, sunshine, juicy oranges from the groves of Florida Fruit Shippers, and....hurricanes. While Florida basks in an ideal climate for growing citrus during most of the year,  those perfect days can occasionally get stormy. During what's known as "hurricane season" from June 1 through November 30 of each year, they can even get downright dicey. During the past two centuries, hurricanes in every category have made landfall and moved across our orange grove regions. Depending on the intensity of the winds, flooding, the speed of the movement of the storm, and other factors, citrus groves can be impacted. But don't worry: we are Floridians, and we've learned over the years how to keep close watch during these times to ensure your fruit is ripe, delicious, and undamaged.

How Do Hurricanes Affect Our Groves?

When we think of hurricanes, we usually imagine ferocious, whipping winds. Most of us are familiar with storm news footage showing palm trees bent all the way over, fronds nearly dusting the ground. While healthy doses of brisk winds are important for trees in general to promote healthy, stable root structures, those same trees can conversely be severely damaged if winds reach hurricane strength, especially over an extended duration.  Citrus trees are no exception. Hurricane force winds can easily strip tender trees of their fruit and, if high enough in intensity, damage their structure and vital root systems. Hurricanes also often bring flooding, which can cause a whole host of other problems. The standing water from flooding and the longer-term saturation of the soil can weaken roots and make them prone to soil-borne diseases in the weeks and months that follow a hurricane strike. If salt water floods a near coastal grove, the trees can get salt damage. When any of these things happen, subsequent fruiting from damaged trees can be sub-par, and time is needed for recovery.  

What Number?

Hurricanes are rated on what's known as a Saffir-Simpson scale, which rates wind speeds. Not taking into account the speed that a storm moves through an area, relative location to the coast, and impacts of flooding, these are the general guidelines as per how hurricanes affect citrus groves: 

Category 1 (74-95 mph): Some loss of leaves and fruit.

Category 2 (96-110 mph): Significant leaf and fruit loss, some trees can be blown down.

Category 3 (111-130 mph): Extensive leaf and fruit loss, with large numbers of trees blown over.

Category 4 (131-155 mph): Trees likely completely stripped, most blown down and off site.

Category 5 (over 155 mph): Total devastation.

Groves and Hurricanes: Some History

When Hurricane Nicole recently struck near Vero Beach, our navel oranges were impacted. As such, the high quality navels you will receive from us will be sourced from a grove outside of the hurricane-affected area. Here at Florida Fruit Shippers we are constantly monitoring the quality of our groves and fruit to make sure you are receiving the most delicious product from the healthiest trees. Monitoring citrus groves during hurricane season is an important part of our job! Take 2004, for example. Four hurricanes--Charley, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan--moved right up through the center of the state sequentially. While they were "only" category 1-2 level storms by the time they moved up the state, the constant rain, wind, and flooding really affected our groves, and there was considerable damage to the buildings as well. Prior to that 2004 "fearsome foursome," the last time hurricanes caused that much damage to the citrus industry was back in the 1940's. With the very recent Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, we've seen some impact in 2022, though not nearly to such an extent. Fortunately, many measures are in place to minimize damage and maximize recovery.

What Floridians Do In a Hurricane

Not surprisingly, Floridians turn to citrus during those occasional hunker-down periods when we are stormbound.  Whether sheltering from a hurricane as it is passing over or riding out days of power outages, tangerinespremium oranges, and grapefruits all make for amazing snacks that require no refrigeration and are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients to keep us sustained as we navigate through. It's also a great time to break out the special treats we offer, to brighten up the stormy days!  With wintertime fast approaching, the same concept applies to snowstorm days up north. Heck, citrus can even brighten us up through times when the internal weather is less than ideal. Keep a stock of citrus and treats on hand, and you'll ride out all of life's storms with ease.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

It Smells Like the Holidays, Naturally!

The winter holidays are a feast for all of the senses: festive lights and decorations for the eyes, traditional music, children's giggles, jingle bells for the ears, cozy soft clothes for the touch, delicious traditional foods for our taste buds, and the telltale citrus-spice scents for our noses.  Not only do gifts like our Florida Sunshine Box, pictured below, provide a wonderful decorative flair; you can use the fruit to make your home smell just like the holidays! 

The Health Benefits of Smelling the Season...Naturally

Scents are powerful, and this time of year we are often bombarded with advertisements and store displays for sprays, perfumes, room fresheners, petroleum-based candles, and such that promote the holiday spirit. They all seem to have enticing names like "Merry Garland Spices" or "Happy Winter Tidings." Thing is, many of these products are loaded with chemicals that can disrupt the body's endocrine system. Fortunately, we have lots of natural alternatives. From ciders to simmer pots to pomanders to potpourri, citrus is central to the smells of the season, and have a lot of aromatherapy benefits as well.  

What is Aromatherapy?

There is something magical about certain smells, and scientists have figured out why. When we inhale something fragrant, the nose becomes stimulated as the molecules containing the scent enter the lungs and eventually travel to other parts of the body. When they reach the brain, they affect our limbic system, which is linked to our emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, stress, and even the balance of our hormones. Certain scents can affect the limbic system positively, creating a sense of ease in the body and mind. This holistic use of various scents is known as aromatherapy. Bottled essential oils are often used for aromatherapy, but one advantage of whole fruit citrus is that it already has a high concentration of essential oils, especially in their rinds.  Furthermore, mixing the scents of citrus (especially oranges) with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves gives our limbic system a double-dosed message of warmth, comfort, and safety.

Using Good Scents

So now that you have your delicious box of fruits from Florida Fruit Shippers, let's get cooking!  A simmer pot is the simplest and most inexpensive way to bring the scents of the season into your home.  Simply peel the rind off of an orange or two, and place it in a medium-sized pot. You can eat the fruit right away or save for later in the fridge.  Fill the pot about halfway with water, and add a few cinnamon sticks. You can also add some apple and pear peels from our Florida Sunshine Box or Heavenly Seven. Turn the burner onto high and allow the mixture to boil for about one minute. Then, turn the heat down to medium and allow the simmering concoction to infuse your home with the comforting aroma of the season. You can simmer for up to an hour, adding water as needed, and when you are all through, you can drink the liquid portion as a cholesterol-busting, skin-boosting tea.

You can also make a pomander: simply stud an orange profusely with whole cloves. You can even make shapes with the cloves, like spirals, stars, Christmas trees or snowmen. As the fruit dries over time, it releases an alluring sweet-spicy smell. If you want to hang your pomander, you can run a wire through the fruit and shape it as needed.  When the fruit has completely dried, your pomander can be hung on your holiday tree, in your closet, or placed in your drawers for wafts of wonderful fragrance everywhere!

Please Pass the Fruit

The holiday a-peel (yes, I really did use that pun) of citrus has many facets: it's cheerfully colorful to look at, fun to eat, delicious to taste both alone and in traditional recipes, and smells just like the season, especially when paired with spices. So with the holidays coming upon us very quickly, take a deep breath and allow all of your senses to be nourished by your box of seasonal magic from Florida Fruit Shippers



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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Snackable Autumn Art: with Citrus!

The end of October and beginning of November mark the season for Halloween and the Autumn Harvest, and there is no better fruit to represent this time of the year than citrus!  As we covered in the last blog, the color orange is the trademark hue of the season, and here at Florida Fruit Shippers, the primary citrus harvest crops are the Fallglo Tangerines, which herald the start of the citrus season, Easy-Peel TangerinesSol Zest Tangerines, red and white grapefruitnavel oranges and red navels. They are available to order now, with shipping in early November. These fruits are perfect for both decorating your home for the season and feeding nutritious snacks to your family: all at the same time!

Goblin Up the Treats

As you can see from this picture taken in your faithful blogger's dining room, the cat, pumpkin, and Morty the skeleton are very happy to see lots of tangerines filling the treat bowl as an alternative to all of the sugary sweets.  With Thanksgiving and the December holidays right around the corner, health often takes a back seat to too many non-nutritious temptations and not enough time to practice healthy habits. As we begin to pack away our spooky decorations and transition into the cozy vibes of Thanksgiving, don't be so quick to pack up the idea of a treat bowl; simply replace the fright-themed one with a decorative basket and repurpose it for healthy snacking throughout the season.


Still Life, Good Enough to Eat!

A bowl of fruit is the quintessential representation of a type of art form called "Still Life." Still Life allows us to appreciate the quiet and often surprising beauty of everyday items in our home, usually from nature. The first picture above, a great example of a Still Life photograph, is of our popular Gift Basket, which also serves as a beautiful centerpiece that's perfect for the season (or anytime of year). To create your own Still Life, you can play with the arrangement of the fruit in the basket, trying different patterns and light settings, and photograph or sketch your design. Citrus baskets are meant to be edible art, so by all means eat your subject material after photographing or sketching! After the delicious citrus is enjoyed, you can keep re-filling the basket with seasonal citrus and even orchard fruits such as those found in the Florida Sunshine Box, and make another Still Life creation before once again heartily eating the subject medium. 

These fruits are delicious enough to peel and eat right on the spot, but since we are waxing creative, you might be inspired to try making a "tang-o-pumpkin" by removing the rind from one or more of our Easy-Peel Tangerines and poking a celery "stem" in at the top. This quick and inventive offering also entices kids to eat the fruit more readily, without the extra step of peeling. Another idea, great for kids and adults alike, is to layer cut-up pieces of oranges and grapefruits with vanilla yogurt in a parfait cup, or simply toss some bite-sized pieces of citrus fruit atop a few dollops of yogurt or cottage cheese.

Edible Mandalas

Continuing our journey into the world of snackable citrus art, we can explore another beautiful form that is made for fruit: Mandalas. Mandalas come from many traditions around the world, and some have a spiritual or meditative component associated with their creation and presentation. They are radially symmetrical, meaning that you want to create a balance of form and shape in all directions from a center point. This type of art is perfect for kids; simply provide them with a bunch of tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and any other items you might find together such as sticks, leaves, age-appropriate ornamental beads, etc., and start creating! In the photo of the fruit mandala above, yours truly used a square pillow cover with a radially symmetrical floral design as a base. You can also use a circular platter or pizza pan, etc. In Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Mandalas are deconstructed right after you make them as a sign of impermanence, so feel free to start eating your fruit as soon as you finish designing. Best of all, you can keep changing the design as often as you wish, especially as the fruit is consumed and replaced. Making mandalas is a grounding mindfulness exercise for kids and adults alike, as close as your kitchen or dining room table and your box of freshly grove-picked fruit from Florida Fruit Shippers.

Happy edible Autumn art-making, from all of us here at FFS!






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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Orange: The Color of Autumn!


Orange: the color of Autumn. How fitting that Autumn is also the season for delicious Florida Fruit Shippers premium oranges, the only fruit (well, besides blueberries) named for its vibrant, healthy, color!

Orange is a unique and welcoming color, the merging of the primary colors red and yellow. However, while all of these colors are considered to be in the "warm" category (versus blues, purples and greens, which are considered "cool,"), orange also elicits feelings of comfort and nourishment.  And, of course, it is also a dominant color associated with the changing of the leaves in Fall. Here in Florida, we don't have much in the way of Fall foliage, but we sure do have a lot of delicious oranges!

Orange and Color Psychology

Most of us would acknowledge that colors can affect our emotions, and many of us have favorite colors that can even change from day to day, depending on our circumstances. Psychologists agree, and in fact a lot of research has shown that colors can help us in times of stress or trauma. If we are feeling blue or depressed, the warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow can invigorate us. Orange is particularly effective, as it combines the bold, expressive energy of red with the lighter, brighter, and friendlier qualities of yellow. The combined effect makes orange a strong influence on us, eliciting feelings of comfort, warmth, security, and even appetite! In fact, orange has been proven to have such an effect on appetite that it is recommended that one should keep healthy orange foods in sight whenever we are tempted to eat cakes, cookies, or other unhealthy offerings, as we will naturally gravitate towards orange-colored foods.

The Color Orange in Autumn

The reason that the color orange is associated with Autumn also has a scientific connection.  The green leaves of trees are loaded with chlorophyll, the pigment compound that enables photosynthesis that makes the food for each tree. Interestingly, green is a soothing color, one shown by color psychologists to diffuse anxiety. This, plus the large amount of oxygen that trees exude, explain why we often feel so restored while spending time in the deep forest. In the Autumn, the shorter days and cooler temperatures signal temperate deciduous trees to stop their food-making process and prepare to go dormant. The same compounds that give color and nutrition to the oranges we love to eat -- carotenoids and flavonoids -- are exposed in these trees when the chlorophyll in their leaves begins to break down in preparation for winter. While leaves can also be red, yellow, and purple, orange tends to be the dominant color of Autumn, enhanced even more by the pumpkins we see for our pies and the oranges we buy for our ciders and snacking.

Orange--and Oranges--to the Rescue 

The warming and comforting effects of the color orange come just in time for the holidays, when tension levels in today's society tend to peak to their highest levels.  In addition to colder weather, sickness, and the mania of the season, our bodies are exposed to higher than usual levels of stimulation and stress.  Furthermore, since we know that orange can induce the appetite and there is an excess of food during the holidays, it's a great time of year to bring oranges into the picture: we will be tempted to snack on them versus the Halloween candy, and their vitamin C and water content will boost immune systems and cellular health. They are also an easy and decorative way to add more of the festive and nourishing orange color to our environs. Heck, you can even use oranges for Halloween decorations...but we'll cover that in detail in our next blog!

Till then, enjoy the season of Orange!






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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Set Up a Daily Routine with the Help of Citrus

You may have heard that a daily routine is important for mental and physical health. During stressful times in particular, it is  important to try to establish as much of a regular routine as possible and stick with it. Experts agree that being able to function in predictable, healthy patterns each day helps you better navigate the more unpredictable, less healthy stressors of life. By incorporating healthy choices as part of your daily routine, these choices will soon become healthy habits, with long-term benefits such as increased vitality, energy, and focus, as well as less anxiety and malaise.

Examples of a Healthy Daily Routine

We already do a few familiar things in a similar pattern each day. For example, a typical weekday may look something like this: we stretch and brush our teeth in the morning, eat breakfast, walk the dog, go to work, have lunch, work some more, come home, eat dinner, walk the dog again, brush teeth, read, and go to bed at night. Now, depending on our choices over time, each of these things can be healthy and sustaining or unhealthy and depleting. Even though our daily routine may help us find a familiar and comfortable pattern to settle into each day, if we choose fried or sugary foods for most of our meals, don't get enough sleep, and don't exercise enough, we may not feel as good as we would with more optimal choices.  

How Can Citrus Help In the Morning?

So what does a healthy daily routine have to do with citrus? Lots! Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, high-quality, fresh citrus is always in our purview, and the health results are palpable.  Let's start with your morning routine: Most people begin their day with a cup of coffee to wake up. But recent research has proven that when you feel lethargic or unable to concentrate well, orange juice will help you sustain alertness and concentration for a longer period of time than coffee.  Starting your day with a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice versus juice from a carton will magnify this effect even more. It's all thanks to those wonderful citrus flavonoids, which along with all of their other health benefits, serve to improve blood flow to the brain.  Pair that juice with a heart-healthy breakfast of oatmeal with some delicious Florida marmalade or honey from one of our gift boxes, take your pup for an energizing walk, and you're all fueled up for a great day.

How Can Citrus Help My Midday Slump?

So your morning orange juice and breakfast combo helped you sail through your work morning, but as lunch approaches, especially after that two-hour board meeting, fatigue and hunger are setting in.  Your co-worker once again brought four dozen donuts to the two-hour meeting, and the chocolate cream one is loudly calling your name.  Your hand extends out to grab it...closer...closer...Stop!  Quick, reach for the delicious, sweet, juicy grapefruit in your bag!  Studies have proven that consuming a grapefruit before the urge to snack on sugary foods or before meals will curb both your cravings and your appetite, thereby keeping you donut- and guilt-free and able to enjoy a healthy lunch.  And, because grapefruits are also loaded with flavonoids, your brain will once again receive a fresh shot of alertness.

How Can Citrus Help Me End My Day?

Your grapefruit before lunch was just the ticket to give you the clarity and energy to deal with the many challenges that came at you in the afternoon, but now that it's 5pm, you feel your energy draining. Suddenly, the thought of a frozen pizza and a random movie before bed is very appealing.  You can exercise tomorrow, right? Wrong!  You spy the bowl of oranges on your counter, and remember your routine: get home, drink a big glass of water, change into some comfy clothes and sneakers, and grab an orange.  You take a brisk walk around your neighborhood, and simply throw the orange from your left hand to your right hand and back again, over and over, as you ambulate. This is called bilateral coordination, and is a phenomenal way to not only exercise your body, but also your mind.  It forces the brain to operate over the corpus callosum, which is responsible for the coordination between the two sides of your brain and body. As we age, we can lose this coordination. Tossing an orange from hand to hand while walking is a highly effective way of keeping the brain and body balanced and functioning at optimal potential. Best of all, when you finish your workout, you can reward yourself with the delicious orange before dinner, which will also serve to curb your appetite and keep your eating moderate.

Citrus can be a powerful ally in your daily routine.  From morning until evening, count on our freshly-picked fruits to sustain you.  You can even save your peels from your daily citrus, soak them in water overnight, and voila: you have an refreshing spritzer for your clothing and rooms. Another idea: chop and bake the rinds in a 200 degree oven until they are fully dried. Mix with dried flower petals for a fresh, comforting sachet for your desk drawers, briefcase, dresser, and suitcase.

So bring on the day, and use citrus to keep you nourished, energized, and satiated through each dynamic moment. From all of us here at Florida Fruit Shippers: Enjoy!


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Saturday, March 12, 2022

Spring Cleaning with Oranges and Grapefruits


It's a funny thing, spring: as those first March and April showers splash down on the budding plants outside, we feel a surge of energy as we look around our homes and get motivated to thrust open the windows, roll up our sleeves, vacuum, wipe, sweep and shake out the settled winter dust, and make everything fresh and sparkling.  We run to the grocery store and stock up on cleaning detergents, solvents, degreasers, de-crudders, dusters, and fresheners. Many of the name brand cleaners boast enticing, all-natural tag lines with such alluring phrases as "with the cleaning power of orange oil!" or "natural citrus power!" Here in the citrus business, we can't help but smile knowingly.  Oranges and grapefruits rival their better-known cleaning cousin--lemons--for their ability to both clean and deodorize. They don't have to be paired with harsh, environmentally unfriendly chemicals often found in most brand-name cleaners, nor are they nearly as expensive to use.

What Makes Citrus So Good at Cleaning?

The rind of citrus fruit is the concentrated storage unit for some really potent--and yet safe and environmentally friendly--cleaning compounds. We've already discussed the power of the flavonoids concentrated in orange and grapefruit peels for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turns out, one of the main flavonoids, called d-limonene, is also a remarkable dirt and grease solvent, and is the primary essential oil that gives citrus fruits their signature bright, enlivening aroma that one equates with a clean and fresh household. In addition, the acidic nature of citrus makes it particularly effective at cleaning up stains and residues from things like fruit juices, coffee, lipstick, wine, and sweat, and also rust and limescale. Vitamin C has antibacterial properties as well; while it won't kill microorganisms outright like harsher cleaners might, it actually creates an environment that is hostile to these pathogens, so that they cannot thrive nor replicate. This is a great approach in the kitchen, as citrus can clean surfaces and subdue harmful bacteria and viruses without introducing endocrine-damaging chemical toxins to our foods and food-preparation surfaces.

Let's Get Cleaning!

Here are some great household uses for your oranges and grapefruits.  Remember, the magnitude of their cleaning power is directly proportional to the quality and freshness of the fruit you use. Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we guarantee that you will have the freshest and highest quality fruits around, with the most concentrated levels of germ-busting, aroma-enhancing flavonoids and vitamins!

General Household Cleaner: It's easy to make a highly effective household cleaner with orange rinds, vinegar, and a few extra ingredients if you want to add them.  You'll need a quart-sized jar with a lid (like a recycled spaghetti sauce jar), an empty spray bottle from a previous cleaning solution or purchased new, distilled white vinegar, rinds from 4-6 peeled oranges (grapefruits would work too), cheesecloth, and, if desired, some herbs like rosemary. Pack the jar with your orange rinds, add rosemary or other herbs if desired, and fill the jar with vinegar.  Seal lid tightly. Store in a cool, dry, dark area such as your pantry for 4-8 weeks.  The longer you let it sit, the more the oils from the rind will infuse into the vinegar, and the darker the solution will become.  After the storage period, pour the amber-colored solution through a strainer or cheesecloth to fill a spray bottle halfway, and then fill the rest with water. You now have a cleaning solution that can tackle surfaces like stovetops, toilets, countertops, sinks, tile or linoleum floors, carpet stains, and even glass!  Because it is acidic, however, it is not recommended for granite, quartz, or marble counters, or on hardwood floors.

Bathroom Buster: Got a dirty bathroom? Grab a grapefruit! Simply cut it in half, eat the delicious fruit inside, salt the remaining pithy inedible parts generously, and voila: you have a versatile bathroom scrubber. It cuts tough bathtub rings, dissolves shower, sink, and countertop soap scum and water mineral stains, and removes toothpaste residue with ease.

Clothes Protection: In addition to making a wonderful household cleaner, oranges have another superpower: they repel bugs! No one likes the smell of mothballs, but who doesn't love the enticing aroma of oranges and cloves?  Ditch the mothballs and insert clove studs all over the peel of a whole orange.  Tie a string or decorative ribbon around your creation and hang anywhere you need to protect clothes from moths.

Fire Ant Removal: Fire ants are an invasive, destructive species. If you need to take care of a fire ant problem, don't add chemicals to the environment.  Orange oil is one of the only proven natural, environmentally-friendly solutions. Simply peel a bunch of oranges and place the peels in a blender with enough water to create a puree.  When you blend the mixture, the orange essential oils are released and, when poured onto a fire ant hill, say goodbye to the fire ants. Best of all, you'll still have the delicious fruit of your oranges to enjoy!

Clean Inside and Out

We already know that both oranges and grapefruits from Florida Fruit Shippers make for some clean and healthy eating. Now you can also use them for a clean and healthy household. 

Happy Spring!


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Monday, February 28, 2022

Family Games with Citrus!

Citrus fruits: there's no doubt that kids and adults alike love to eat them.  And here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we love to send fresh-picked, delicious fruits of the most delicious caliber your way.  But what if there were a way to maximize the enjoyment of your fruits, beyond peeling and eating them?  In this week's blog, we are going to look at some ways your fresh citrus can also be incorporated into family fun and even educational activities!

The Citrus Memory Game

Citrus fruits are loaded with memory-boosting bioactive polyphenols, which are particularly high in oranges.  Grapefruits, by comparison, have more Vitamin A than oranges, and Vitamin A has been shown to keep cognition sharp.  What better way to flex those brain muscles than to play a memory game!  In this game, one person is the caller. Each of the other players are assigned a citrus fruit, which they will hold in their hand. For example, mom can be an orange, dad can be a grapefruit, one child can be a tangerine, and another child can be a Honeybell.  If there are more than four people, other players can double up with any of these fruits.  The caller will then call out six fruits in a random order. For example, he or she might say "grapefruit grapefruit orange Honeybell!" After the caller says the order, the group must lift their fruits in the correct order.  If someone lifts their fruit at the wrong time, they are out, and must give their fruit(s) to one of the other players, who is now responsible for two or more fruits as the game progresses. The winner is the one left with all of the fruits!

Orange Tic Tac Toe

Cut three oranges in half. Each player takes three halves. One decides to be the "face up" side, and the other decided to be the "face down side.  Draw a tic tac tow grid on a large, clean piece of paper, or use edible items such as celery stalks to create a grid on a clean counter, table, or cutting board.  The first player places an orange half face up in one of the grid spaces.  The second player follows by placing an orange half face down on another.  The game continues until all of the grid spaces are filled, and if either player succeeds in making a straight line with their orange halves, they win.

Sensory Water Play

Babies love to explore the world through their senses: sight, smell, taste, and touch. A simple tub filled with water and slices of citrus fruits is an excellent way to introduce your infant or toddler to a whole gamut of sensory experiences: the bright colors of the rind and pulp, the bumpy texture, the sweet and sour tastes, the uplifting citrus aromas. Babies who can sit up on their own can even sit right in the tub for an immersive experience, while older toddlers might enjoy interacting with the tub as a "touch tank" to reach in and explore. Older kids can take it a step further by incorporating their imaginations: cut up circles of oranges can become sea monster eyes, or grapefruit slices can be Mickey Mouse ears.

"Kneed" An Orange?

Now here's a game for the more athletically-inclined friends and family members in your orbit: The Orange Knee Game!  For this one, you will need two hula hoops placed at about five meters from the starting point, and six oranges.  This game can be for two, four, or six players, with each player assigned to one of two teams. Each player gets three oranges, which are placed on the floor on the starting line in front of them.  The goal is to pick up each orange, one at a time, between the knees, and figure out how to waddle, walk, or jump the orange to the inside of their respective hula hoops.  Players are not permitted to use their hands--only their knees! The team that gets all of their oranges inside the hula hoop first is the winner.  Or, if you don't want to compete, you can simply do this game as a way to work on your athletic prowess.

So, in the words of our own FFS founder, "who says you can't play with your food?" Here's to enjoying your fresh citrus in lots of new and fun ways--and then you can enjoy the delicious reward!






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Friday, February 11, 2022

Family Fun with Citrus on Valentine's Day

 Family Fun with Citrus on Valentine's Day!

As Mr. and Mrs. Love Emoji above clearly demonstrate, Valentine's Day and Citrus fruit make a great pair! These easy-to-make emojis are perfect for any kind of citrus fruits, especially ones with evenly round or oval shapes such as oranges (Mrs. Love Emoji), Temple Oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits (Mr. Love Emoji).  We'll go over some really fun and creative ideas for bringing citrus into your Valentine's Day festivities. But first, you may be wondering:

Why Citrus Fruits for Valentine's Day?

Chocolates, flowers, and those little heart candies with sentiments on them: Aren't they what you give for Valentine's Day? Well, sure. Everybody does that. Citrus is a fabulous and healthy alternative. In the flood of classic Valentines' outpourings, giving citrus gifts, doing citrus crafts, and eating citrus foods as a way to commemorate Cupid definitely stands out. 

Oranges, in fact, actually boast a prominent place on the international stage for their association with love and romance.  In China, during the Valentine's-equivalent holiday of Chap Goh Mei, unmarried ladies write their phone numbers or email addresses on oranges and toss them out into the river or ocean, whereby potential suitors scurry to pick them up in order to make a love connection.  In Italy, the juice of the orange has long been considered a potent aphrodisiac, with orange juice being offered up in villages across the country on Valentine's Day to all who seek romance. Valentine's Day's long association with the heart symbol also makes it a shoe-in for focusing on heart health. Citrus is much better for one's heart than candy, and oranges have a healthy amount of heart health-boosting and vitality-inducing hesperidin in them, as well.  What better way to say "I Love You?"

Easy Citrus Valentine's Fun for Kids

Ready to celebrate Valentine's Day the healthy way?  You'll need just a few household supplies and a nice assortment of oranges, mandarins, and/or grapefruits from Florida Fruit Shippers. First, to make Mr. and Mrs. Love Emoji featured above, you simply need red and black markers. Look up classic emojis, or make up your own!  If you're doing these with younger kids, it's fine to use craft or dry erase versus permanent markers.  There's no right or wrong way to make your emojis, but for the purposes of Valentine's Day, you can definitely encourage lots of hearts.

Mr. and Mrs. Love Bug

Here's a fun way to dress up your citrus: turn them into love bugs!  You can start with your Love Emoji fruit creations, or use googly eyes and glitter for their faces.  Then, using toothpicks, insert little antennae on the tops of the fruits and glue pink or red hearts on them.  Finally, cut out larger red hearts from foam or construction paper, glitter them if you wish, and glue them to the bottom so that your lovebugs have little "feet."

Orange You Glad It's Valentine's Day Gift

Here's a juicy, inexpensive gift idea: Using mandarins or oranges, print out as many of the following tags as you will need: Orange You Glad It's Valentine's Day?  Then, using a red, pink, or heart-adorned gift bag (or decorating plain bags yourself), place a single citrus fruit in each bag. You may want to use your Emoji fruits or lovebugs, or just a simple undecorated fruit.  Add anything else you may wish: some chocolates, some paper confetti, etc., close the bag, and affix your tag. Give to everyone in your child's class, your coworkers, family members, friends, neighbors, mail carrier, garbage collectors, and anyone else you might think could use a burst of Valentine's sunshine!

A Yummy Valentine's Treat

Finally, while citrus fruits standalone in the taste department, there's no doubt about it: citrus and chocolate are perfect together.  Melt up some chocolate chips and butter in a pan for a fast fondue-style dipping sauce, cut up some orange and grapefruit wedges, dip, and enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Florida Fruit Shippers. 


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Friday, January 28, 2022

Take the Temple Orange Quiz!

Take the Temple Orange Quiz!

How much do you know about Temple Oranges? Try this quiz to find out. 

Question: What do you get when you cross a mandarin with an orange?
    A. Tangor
    B. Temple Orange
    C. Royal Mandarin Tangor
    D. All of the above

Question: Why are they called Temple Oranges?
    A. Because your body is a temple and you want to feed it the most nutritious orange
    B. Because they are eaten in temples
    C. Because they were first propagated by a man named W.C. Temple
    D. All of the above

Question: Why should you order and enjoy Temple Oranges from Florida Fruit Shippers in February?
    A. Because they are only available in February
    B. Because they are not available at the grocery store
    C. Because they are still in season late into the winter
    D. All of the above

Question: Why Are Temple Oranges Great to Give for Valentine's Day?
    A. Because they are heart-shaped
    B. Because they have "Be Mine" stamped on them
    C. Because Cupid likes them
    D. Because they are an uncommon and wonderful way to say "I love you"

If you answered "D" to the above questions, you are a Temple Orange superstar!  Let's explore these delicious, nutritious, unique fruits a little bit further.

What Are Temple Oranges?

Temple Oranges are the luscious hybrid of tangerine and sweet orange, which explains one of their alternate name: tangors. They are medium-sized with more of an elliptical tangerine shape, and the peel and pulp are both a very attractive orange-red color. The color alone clues you in: this is one healthy citrus!  In addition, they have a thin rind that is very easy to peel, and the fruit is super juicy.  This is a great on-the-go snacking orange that is easiest to peel and eat outside or near a small trash can, as there are some seeds you'll need to gracefully spit out while enjoying them.  

Where Did They Come From?

While Temple Oranges can certainly be eaten in temples, and while they are very nutritious and perfect for maintaining your body as a temple, their name actually derives from the man who first propagated them. Tangors are a natural hybrid, and this particular variety was discovered in Jamaica in the late 19th century by a Florida fruit grower named Boyce. Boyce sent some budwood samples to nearby Florida, where William Chase Temple propagated them and shared them with a friend of his who owned a nursery in the Winter Park area. Because they grew best in Florida, they became a hit by the 1940's, and are still sought after today.

Whom Are They Best For?

Temple Oranges are gluten-free and vegan, easy to pack for road trips and school lunches, and taste delicious; any health- and taste-conscious kid or adult will love them!  With Valentine's approaching quickly, a gift basket of Temple Oranges is an uncommonly perfect way to say "I love you." 

 Why Should I Order Them Soon?

One of the great things about Temple Oranges, in addition to their power-packed nutrition content, great sweet-tangy taste and easy snackability, is that they are late-season oranges.  In other words, we're still picking them deep into the wintertime!  However, the season will be ending soon, and these wonderful fruits won't be available past mid-February.  Because you can't find them in a store, there is only a small window to enjoy Temple Oranges until next season. 

Ready to order?  Just click here: Temple Oranges





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