Last updated on March 6th, 2018
If you want some of the best cheese, go to Wisconsin. But if you are looking for an OJ, you need to go to Florida. Or even better, the South Naples Citrus Grove. They are the second largest producer of Oranges in the world and number one in the United States. But where does your OJ come from?
Most OJ’s on the shelf are produced either in Brazil or Florida. Over 90% of all oranges grown are sent directly to a juicing factory. They don’t even get the chance to be cut into slices and enjoyed. Often your commercially produced orange juice is a blend of Florida or Brazilian juice. Few brands make it entirely with Florida juice. If you want the freshest juice, you need to go to Florida and buy from a grower. That is what we did at the South Naples Citrus Grove.
When making juice, the groves have to take care to pick them at the correct time to ensure consistent batches. Oranges must stay on the tree until they have reached the optimal level of sweetness. During their traditional harvest months, the growers will start to sample the oranges by juicing and checking the acidity and sugar levels. Once they get the green light, the picking starts. The most common way to pick them is still by hand.
The South Naples Citrus Grove
Arriving at the South Naples Citrus Grove, we were welcomed with the site of fresh oranges bagged up ready to be taken home by their guest. The fruit is grown, picked and sold here in their plant. It is also where they processed their oranges for production. The Naples Citrus Grove had their market setup front filled with vibrant colored fruits. They sold a variety of different citrus fruits including tangerines, lemons, and grapefruits. They also sell jams, preserves, and salsas to take home with you in addition to the fresh fruit. If you’re maxed out on your carry on limit, or just don’t want to bring a bag of oranges through the airport, they’ll to ship your fruit home.
When Hurricane Irma came through, many groves in Florida suffered substantial damage, and there was a lot of fruit loss. Since the sweetness of the fruit depends on the fruit staying on the tree, when the 120 mph winds came through, oranges were blown from the trees. According to Florida Citrus Mutual, groves reported losing 50% – 100% of their harvest. http://flcitrusmutual.com/news/marketplace_irma_112717.aspx At the South Naples Citrus Grove, they took some losses as well. Including loosing over 80% of their grapefruits.
Right outside the store, the oranges were growing, waiting to reach their ripeness level and become juice one day. Depending on the day you visit, you may get to see the harvest in person. On your next visit to Florida, make sure to find a local Citrus Grove and find out what fresh OJ tastes like!
More Info: South Naples Citrus Grove
Directions: Naples Florida
When To Visit: Mon – Sat 9am – 5pm
Recommended Guide: Squeezed: What You Don’t know about the Orange Juice Industry
Other Recommends: Don’t forget to get some of their Orange/Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream Cones!