With health and nutrition top of mind these days, everywhere I turn, I see citrus! Maybe it’s because citrus is at its peak this time of year or maybe because we could all use a burst of sunshine in the middle of the winter. Whatever the reason, nothing beats the refreshing, bright flavors of citrus.
While I love all varieties of citrus, I want to focus on oranges – specifically, Florida Oranges. I was so fortunate to be able to visit some beautiful orange groves this past January. The groves we visited were just south of Orlando, and the growers we met were bursting with information on the Florida juice industry. They shared helpful differences between the varieties — each variety offers a slightly different citrus flavor profile that, when combined; create a delicious, perfectly balanced juice. They explained that Florida’s climate and unique soil conditions contribute to the unique taste of 100% Florida Orange Juice.
I loved learning about the different varieties grown in Florida – Valencia, Hamlin, and mid-season oranges-also referred to as pineapple oranges or mid-sweets. We arrived during the height of harvest season. They were picking Hamlins.
The Hamlins are the most tart of all oranges harvested and some of my favorites! One of the growers picked a ripe but not-so-pretty orange (Florida oranges are not very pretty on the outside, but they are the juiciest and most delicious on the inside – where it counts). He pulled a small, sharp knife out of his back pocket and professionally sliced off some of the skin on the top of the orange and made a perfect “V” shape so that when I put the orange to my lips, I barely had to squeeze the fruit before about a cupful of juice came running out—IT WAS AMAZING!
The next orange of the season, harvested a month later, is called a pineapple orange. It’s a little sweeter than the last. This orange has some of the tanginess of the Hamlin but is a little sweeter from its time in the hot Florida sun.
Finally, the queen of all oranges, the Valencia, which is the sweetest and juiciest of all, is harvested last – usually March through June.
The best part of the day was giving my palette the gift of understanding why I’ve always loved oranges from my home state. Florida’s subtropical climate helps make Florida Oranges so juicy and so flavorful – creating a perfectly balanced juice for all seasons! It’s satisfying, a palette opener, and quenches your thirst all in one gulp.
This is my favorite recipe of ceviche using 100% Florida Orange Juice to brighten the flavors a bit:
Mixed Ceviche Recipe
- 12 medium size shrimp with the peel on
- 3 ounces calamari, cleaned, very thinly sliced into 1/8 inch strips
- 10 ounces snapper or any fresh white fish, cut into ½ inch pieces
- Bowl with ice water
- ¼ cup celery, minced
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
- 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and 1/8 inch diced
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 cups 100% Florida Orange Juice
- ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt
Step 1: Heat some water to a boil in a medium size pot, reduce to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook for about a minute or until just cooked through, place immediately in ice water.
Step 2: Add the calamari, cook for about 20 seconds, and place in the ice water. Drain the shrimp and calamari well.
Step 3: In a medium size bowl, mix the fish and cooked seafood with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Step 4: Remove the seafood from the refrigerator, mix with the celery, jalapeno, ginger, lime and orange juice, cilantro and ¼ teaspoon salt. Combine well and taste for seasoning.
Chill for 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with corn nuts.
image: Getty / BRETT STEVENS
This post was sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus