Saturday, January 8, 2022

Warming Citrus Drinks for Wintertime

After a relatively warm Christmas, one look at the national weather report in the northern hemisphere in January is all it takes to convince anyone: baby, it's cold outside!  There's snow in the west, snow in the north, even snow in the deep south. To top it off, the sudden change from unseasonably warm in December to blizzards and wind chill factors in January is challenging even the most hardy of immune systems.  Here in Florida, there isn't any snow, but the cooler temperatures are actually helping the citrus trees sweeten up their fruits and pack them with more vitamin C. Nature's answer to fighting the winter chills and germs? Warm drinks made from cooled citrus! 

Cooler Temperatures Make Sweeter Citrus

Most of us consider oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits to be a balmy-weather crop that grows best in warm temperatures.  But consider this: many citrus varieties thrive in subtropical climates like Florida, California, and the Mediterranean, and not only in the deep tropics.  In fact, citrus plants that are acclimated to occasional cold spells actually produce the sweetest and most nutritious fruits!  This may come as a surprise, since hard freezes in Florida often make the news as being devastating to citrus farmers.  While hard freezes are relatively rare, the "orange belt" of central Florida does have a distinct winter during which temperatures easily drop into the forties at night. The citrus trees adapt to this temperature plunge by giving their fruits a "winter coat": the peel thickens and takes on a richer, deeper color, locking in all of the delicious juices. Inside, the fruit responds by reducing its acid content and churning out more fruit sugars. The result is a more succulent, sweet product.

Warming Up with Cooled Fruits

Winter is a time for self-care and slowing down, and our Florida Fruit Shippers oranges, honeybells, tangerines and grapefruits are ready to serve! These winter-sweetened fruits are primed to warm you up and make you feel better if you are under the weather.  To increase your body temperature and fight off infection and fatigue, nothing can beat a warm (not too hot) drink.  One study, performed in 2008 by the Cardiff Cold Centre at Cardiff University, demonstrated that just the sensations of drinking a slightly sweet, warm drink--the steamy aroma of the fruits, the heat of the cup in the hands, and the taste and warmth of the fluid cascading down the throat--were enough to immediately ease common cold symptoms like sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, chills, and fatigue--and that these effects were sustained.  In other words, simply nurturing ones senses via a warm, healthy, sweet beverage can have powerful healing properties.  Add to this effect with the immune-boosting, virus-busting ingredients found in citrus, and the benefits of a warm citrus drink are impossible to ignore.

How to Make a Warm Citrus Drink

If you have a favorite brewed tea, try boiling it with orange and grapefruit slices and a sprig of rosemary.  Of course, if you wish to sleep or relax, make sure the tea is decaffeinated. You can also heat up apple juice with citrus slices, cinnamon sticks, and clove for a simple cider. For an even more potent vitamin punch, try some Hot Citrus Apple Cider or include other antioxidant- and Vitamin C-rich fruits in your beverage, such as this Warm Cranberry Citrus Drink. And while we definitely do not recommend boozing up your healing beverages, as alcohol can be both dehydrating and disorienting, do try this simple Citrus Hot Toddy minus the spirits.  The added sweetness of honey soothes the throat and offers antibiotic benefits.

Bring some sunshine to your chilly winter with a nice warm citrus-infused drink, get cozy, and enjoy Florida sunshine right there in your mug!


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