Florida citrus is typically 25% heavier than citrus grown outside the state. Thinner peels, combined with more juice, account for the weight.
Citrus, even though it is closely identified with Florida, is not native to the state. Historians believe that Ponce de Leon and his men brought the first citrus to Florida during their exploration in 1513.
The earliest groves developed around two important sea ports, St. Augustine and Tampa. In 1806, Count Odet Phillippe, who had left his native France for the new world, introduced grapefruit to Florida. In 1823, he planted the state's first grapefruit grove, near Tampa. But grapefruit did not gain commercial acceptance until the late 1800's.
In 1915 the first citrus processing plant in America was built in Haines City, Florida. Mr. Claude E. Street realized the great waste from 'cull fruit' and began an endeavor that would be profitable for the grower. Mr. Street's company was known as the Florida Fruit Products Company, Inc. His first product was bottled in glass and called "Street's Grapefruit Juice".
Florida citrus is one of the best regulated commodities produced in this country. Through a complex network that includes the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Citrus Commission, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, both Florida fresh citrus and Florida processed juices are under continual inspection, to insure that the consumer gets quality.
Florida is the second largest producer of oranges in the world following Brazil. More than 90 percent of all Florida oranges are squeezed into orange juice.
Specialty fruit are also part of the Florida citrus family. Varieties include temples, tangerines and tangelos.
Oranges from the Sunshine State, which are grown in a subtropical climate where nighttime temperatures are warmer, often retain some green or yellow color, even though the fruit inside is fully ripe. Here's why. Sometimes, as an orange hangs ripening on the tree, warm temperatures cause chlorophyll (the green pigment found in plants) to return to the peel. So the peel actually may turn a little green as it fully ripens
Some of the best-tasting varieties are also on the light-colored side -- a very light orange -- even at their peak. Florida oranges are not picked until they're ripe, and once picked, they will not ripen further.
Florida citrus is a delicious source of potassium, calcium, folate, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorous, magnesium and copper.
Florida oranges and grapefruit are fat-free and sodium-free. A medium-sized orange averages only about 70 calories, and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful "antioxidant."
Oranges will stay fresh for about 3 weeks to 1 month. If an orange goes from a grove to a warehouse and stays there for a few days to weeks before making it to the shelf, it will steadily degrade in quality.
Never store citrus fruit in plastic bags or film wrapped trays. When citrus fruit is stored airtight, moisture will form between the peel and the plastic, which will lead to mold growth.
Citrus fruit should be stored between 35 and 50 degrees andGrapefruit should be stored between 45 and 48 degrees.
Oranges are called seedless when they have five seeds or less.
Temple Oranges and Murcott Tangerines have so much sugar in them that they will sink if dropped in water. All other oranges will float.
Oranges grown on the south side of an orange tree are much sweeter than those grown in any other location. The north side of the tree always produces the least sweet fruit.
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