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Oranges - California vs Florida

At my local supermarket, the oranges are advertised as being from Florida or California. I noticed that the Califirnia ones look prettier, but the Florida ones tend to be juicier/taste sweeter.

Has anyone else found this to be true?

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  1. Yes, but I also live in Florida!

    1. I think it depends on the variety and the time of year, as their crops are at the best at different times. Florida navels are best from Nov - January; FL valencias are best from March through May. CA navels are available from Dec. through May and valencias from May through Oct.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DanaB

        DanaB, you got it right. Growing up, we (the extended family) had an orange farm in California.

      2. I've mentioned before- the BEST oranges are the ugly ones! Un-round, patchy, snaggly, dirty and not day-glo orange skinned oranges taste amazing, especially from someone's 13+year old tree. (I've lived in CA and FL but never appreciated oranges until we moved to FL... but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm not a young kid who could care less about fruit!)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Boccone Dolce

          Yes, we get the nastiest, ugliest ones, and they are the best. However, they don't come from Florida or California. They come from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. We also have the best grapefruit.

        2. I grew up in Detroit. Florida oranges were around from Thanksgiving to Christmas and that's when we had juice for breakfast...the rest of the year it was California oranges and wedges, not juice.

          Now that I live in San Diego (and have never owned a snow shovel or lawmower in my entire adult life) it is only California oranges, supplemented with blood orange juice from my yard from about November to March.

          1. Lived both places. Mom always referred to Florida oranges as juice oranges and California oranges as the ones you eat.

            1. Ugly Florida oranges. I think the heirlooms and mongrel crossbreeds are better tasting than any single variety such as valencia...

              1. Fla oranges are more suited for juice, and Cali navels cannot be beat for eating straight up, and peeled by hand. Please note, however, that most any oranges, out of season, are not very good at all. Don't buy cali navels in summer, they will always be bad. Almost all fruits are seasonal. This should come as no surprise.

                In season Cali navels are the BEST. It's like eating sweet sunshine in the middle of winter.

                7 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I'm surprised. I see the sign in my food store stating, "California Navels". But again, I live in Florida. What do we know about Calfornia Navels?

                    1. re: Alfred G

                      We had a farm producing Navels and Valencias when I grew up in Califiornia. Here in Cali, Colombia, we have a lot of varieties other than Navels.

                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Sam, how were you all born without umbilical cords?

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Lotsa woment here get tummy tucks and the docs have to make em a new one.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Hermano, that explains the womens' lack of navels, but not yours as you confessed to above. I did an informal off-board poll, and respondents were equally divided. Half think you arrived here from outer space, the other half think you crawled out of a petri dish:)

                          1. re: Veggo

                            "Formed from primordial stuff in a Petri dish from outer space" My new motto.

                  2. The short answer is that your observation that Florida fruit is generally sweeter and juicier than California fruit is correct. This can be objectively verified by testing the Brix or soluble sugar and the weight of similarly sized fruit. The warm, humid climate which produces this fruit in Florida also causes more external blemishes on the fruit; this is as opposed to California which has a more arid climate and is more conducive to the growth of blemish free fruit. Because supermarkets know that the average produce consumer judges produce largely based upon appearance, they buy more California fruit. The aforementioned facts are why the vast majority of California oranges are sold fresh (and therefore appear in your supermarket), while the vast majority of Florida oranges are processed (juice and other byproducts). The very highest quality fresh Florida oranges are not sold to supermarkets because they simply will not pay the prices that growers need to generate a positive return on their crop.

                    1. As a former Arizona resident (who also has Florida grove-owning relatives) I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Grand Canyon State also produces tasty oranges (although it may be better known for grapefruit).