Buyer's Guide to Florida Citrus

Buying Honeybell Tangelos

The Bottom Line

Really want to wow someone? Send Honeybells. They're super­juicy, intensely sweet, and flavorful as can be. This is citrus taken to a whole new level. Locals “in the know” wait eagerly all year to buy them, but many people outside of Florida have never tasted one. Ship someone a gift basket of Honeybells, and give them the opportunity!

Buy Honeybell Tangelos

Appearance

You can tell why they're called “Honeybells” the second you look at them. That cute little “bell” on top of the deep­orange fruit gives these large, handsome fruits their name.

Taste

Honeybells are actually not oranges! They're a cross between the Dancy tangerine, one of the oldest citrus varieties grown in Florida, and a Duncan Grapefruit, which is a sweet but seedy grapefruit no longer widely grown. These unique “parents” give the honeybell a fantastic, sweet, vivid flavor, good size and an abundance of juice. And yes, some say there's a hint of “honey.”

Juiciness

These are really juicy. Like, seriously, famously juicy. Some eat them over the sink!

Seeds

Honeybells are generally seedless, but a few sometimes sneak in from time to time.

Eating out of hand

Honeybells are easy to peel and delectable, so they're great for eating out of hand (though they also make amazing and plentiful juice). Just make sure you have a napkin on hand!

Availability

Well, here's the rub. You can only buy Honeybells for a brief, fleeting time from the beginning of January through the middle of February. These gems have a short, but sweet season. Get 'em when you can.

Interesting Facts

Almost all the Honeybells in the US are grown in a small region of Florida. It's one reason they're not so easy to come by.

The Honeybell is a type of tangelo. The name comes from a combination of the two fruits that were crossed to create it — the “tange”­rine and the pomme­“lo,” of which the Duncan Grapefruit is a direct descendant.

Honeybells are tricky to harvest! The little “bell” at the end of the fruit is fragile, and can't be torn when we take them off the tree. We have to treat these sweet, juicy babies with more care than other citrus, but they're worth it.

History

The Honeybell is a relatively new variety — it was “born” in 1931. We can thank a plant expert named Walter T. Swingle, who worked for the USDA. Swingle created many new types of citrus, but his tangelos (he's also the originator of the Orlando tangelo) are certainly among his finest work.

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