Coast to Coast Comparison
Recently my family and I traveled to Miami Beach for a vacation. We stayed in a condo so we cooked the majority of our meals. I was surprised to find that when we walked into the nearby grocery store the produce department was stocked with California oranges. I thought we were in Florida where they were famous for their oranges… it’s even on their license plates!
I was shocked how difficult it was to find native Florida oranges in the grocery store during the height of what I thought was citrus season. After a couple of passes through the produce department, I eventually found a bag of them. I didn’t give it much thought to why they might not be as popular as their flawlessly vibrant California cousins until I tried to eat one for lunch. They are not the type of orange you can just grab and walk out the door with. It takes quite the effort just to unpeel one, not to mention avoid all the seeds!
After doing some research I found out that we missed Florida’s peak orange season. It falls earlier (November-January) compared to the mid-winter to late-spring season we are accustomed to here in New England where we usually see an abundance of California navel oranges, Cara Caras, and Clementines.
California oranges are the most popular variety, because they are easy to peel and have juicy, seedless segments, while Florida oranges conversely have a much thicker skin and membrane making them much more difficult to quickly peel and eat. Typically, Florida oranges have a sweeter taste, which makes them appealing to someone who may not enjoy the tartness of a California orange or Cara Cara.
I decided when I got home to juice some of the leftover oranges from our trip along with some California oranges to do a side-by-side taste test. The California oranges had a bright, tart flavor and produced more juice than the Florida oranges. The juice of the California oranges was similar to the flavor you would expect from a more conventional orange juice. However, the fresh juice from both oranges is incomparable to any store bought variety. Even though the Florida oranges were much sweeter than the California oranges neither tasted artificial or too sweet.
So after my experiment, I would recommend using Florida oranges for sweeter orange juice and California oranges for snacking!
Source: "California Navel Oranges." California Navel Oranges. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2013.