Looking for citrus Picking Tips in 2018? Scroll down this page and follow the links. And if you bring home some fruit or vegetables and want to can, freeze, make jam, salsa or pickles, see this page for simple, reliable, illustrated canning, freezing or preserving directions. There are plenty of other related resources, click on the resources dropdown above.
If you have questions or feedback, please let me know!
Notes for April 2018: Strawberries are one of the first major crops, starting in Florida, southern California and parts of Texas and working northward through April and May and into June. But in each area, the season is only a few weeks long and highly dependent upon local weather and varieties planted. Check your area's copy calendar (see this page) and call your local farms for seasonal updates. FL, TX, CA: Citus is usually available now in those areas along with strawberries and blueberries.
Children's Consignment Sales occur in both the Spring and Fall See our companion website to find a local community or church kid's consignment sale!
We also have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! It is easy to make your own ice cream, even gelato, or low fat or low sugar ice cream - see this page. Also note, there are many copycat website listing U-pick farms now. They have all copied their information from here and usually do not ever update. Since 2002, I've been updating the information every day but Christmas; so if you see anything wrong, please write me!
Citrus fruit, like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, mandarins and tangerines are easy to pick and use, if you are lucky enough to live in the semi-tropical climates where they grow.
In the US, that means southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Texas, Florida and sometimes in southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Citrus are fat-free, low sodium, and cholesterol-free.
Most modern orange, grapefruit, mandarin or tangerine orchards have dwarf trees that are very close to the ground - my 3 year old finds it easy to pick citrus! (photo above and below)
Select The color can be anything from dark green, to yellow, pink, orange, bright red, dark red or even a combination. It all depends on the variety. And color is not really how you tell when a citrus fruit is ripe. The key will be to ask the farmer which are ripe.
Look for firm, bruise-free skin
Look for a heavy, solid feel to the fruit. heavier and more solid means juicier!
The dimples should have small, fine dimples on the peels
Watch out for soft, tender spots or wrinkled, folds in the rind.
The smell of the the fruit should be a strong, sweet citrusy smell.
The farmer/orchardist will also know what characteristics to look for in the particular varieties that he is growing.
Citrus ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center, so the citrus out the outside of the tree will ripen first. Once they are picked, they stop ripening. Picking citrus directly from a tree is easy.. abut uniform orange color is not necessarily an indicator of a delicious, juicy orange. Notice the photo at right.
The best way to know if a citrus fruit is ripe is the smell and taste. Try one and you'll know what to look for in appearance and smell with the others.
Keep in mind that these are typical, general dates. It can vary considerably upon weather, location, orchard and variety.
Navel oranges - November to June.
Valencia oranges - March to October.
Cara Cara oranges December to May.
Clementine oranges -October to December
Satsuma - October to January.
Pineapple sweet oranges - November to February.
In a refrigerator, citrus can last 2 or3 weeks.. Keep them in a bag that has holes for airflow, ie. they have a few holes in them . The airflow is important to prevent buildup of moisture or condensation which causes mold growth.
At room temperature, Citrus will keep for about a week.
The weight of the citrus fruit, and the number of fruit per bushel varies depending on the size of the fruit , their moisture content and variety. But, in general:
1 bushel = 48-72 oranges or 32-48 grapefruit.
3/4 bushel = 36-54 oranges or 24-36 grapefruit
1/2 bushel = 24-36 oranges or 16-24 grapefruit