Delicious Citrus: Temple Oranges
Because they rarely show up on supermarket shelves, fruit lovers often have to shop online to find the most sought-after citrus varieties. Why is this?It is because most fresh citrus in the U.S. is sent directly to processing plants for juicing. For example, about 80 percent of American oranges end up as juice. The overwhelming majority of the remainder are from popular orange varieties like Navels or Valencias. Those are generally the oranges that are sold in clear plastic bags for four or five bucks at your local grocery store. The rest are marketed as specialty fruit and are sold directly to fruit lovers by commercial orchards.
One of the few orange varieties that is available in the early spring, Temples are sometimes referred to as “The King of Citrus.” No, it isn't because they rule over the land, but rather that they are hard to find and highly sought after. According to most fruit connoisseurs, they are among the best eating oranges on the planet! What makes them special?
First and most importantly, Temple Oranges are not technically oranges. The portmanteau word that is used to describe them is “tangor,” which means that they are a cross between a tangerine and an orange. Few would know it to look at them, since there's absolutely nothing that distinguishes them from the thousands of other orange varieties, at least on the outside. But once you get a hold of them… that's a different story!
Temple Orange Facts
- Because they are part tangerine, Temple Oranges have thin skin that can be removed in a matter of seconds. This only adds to their appeal as an excellent eating orange.
- Often sold in crates or boxes, they are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other hard-to-find orange varieties.
- Since they have thin skins and are juicier than most other oranges, Temples don't have a particularly long shelf life, which is why some grocers are reluctant to stock them.
- Tangy, easy to peel, and nearly seedless, Temples can be used in everything from salads to main dishes.
- Available from January through March, the annual supply rarely lasts.
Where to Find Them
If you do not reside in one of the citrus-producing states–Florida, Texas, California, or Arizona–it's highly unlikely that Temple Oranges will show up at your local supermarket. However, you can buy them directly from commercial growers on the internet.Just make sure you place your order a few weeks before the crop comes to harvest.