Here at Florida Fruit Shippers®, we get asked a lot of questions about citrus. Folks want to know which types to buy for snacking out of hand, which kinds make the most delicious juice, which types have seeds and which don't, which are the sweetest, and which have that hint of tangy tartness. To make things easier on our customers and to clear up any confusion out there, we’ve written up this buyer's guide to some of the most popular types of citrus.
To answer this question, we could give you a lengthy botany and history lesson. But to avoid turning into the Wikipedia article on citrus, we'll stick to a simple definition: a citrus fruit is a special type of fragrant berry with a leathery rind and juicy interior. Citrus originated either in Southeast Asia or around Australia, and has been cultivated and propagated from its “parent” species for centuries.
Common types of citrus include sweet oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Of course, there are other, more exotic types out there too, including the kumquat, the pommelo, and the ugli fruit--and a few we bet most of you have never heard of, like the finger lime and the Buddha's hand.
For this guide, we'll be focusing on the most common varieties grown and sold in Florida, since that's what we know. These are the types of citrus you’ll be most likely to buy at your local store or purchase online--for instance, in the seasonal gift baskets many of us enjoy receiving around the holidays.
Ah, Florida and California — two beautiful, sunny states that both grow plenty of citrus fruit. Why do many prefer Florida citrus? To answer that question, let's think about climate. If you've ever gotten caught without an umbrella during one of our famous afternoon downpours, you know that Florida is a pretty wet place. Out in the citrus groves of California, though, it's a lot drier. This difference in rainfall makes a difference in fruit quality and appearance. Thanks to all that rain, our oranges ripen up really sweet and juicy. Due to our wetter, stormier climate, Florida oranges don't always look quite as picture-perfect as California oranges — but we think flavor matters more.