The drinking of orange juice is hardly news, but that won’t stop me from putting my nine cents into the conversation. I mean, as far back as 1971, when John Walton brought oranges home for Christmas in that memorable pilot, we have all witnessed the magic of this fruit, right? But seriously, that depression era TV show highlights my very point: everyone needs a delicious dose of fresh citrus in the winter. As in NEEDS!
I am fully aware of the benefits of the “locavore” movement. In fact, Vermonters are big, big into the notion of supporting local growers and eating what is in season (despite our limited zone 4 growing options). For the past few years my spouse and I have LOVED our local CSA, and our visits to many of the Farmer’s Markets, even the few year-round ones. We adapt our diet as we go through the year, eating plenty of early greens in the spring, everything possible that can be grown all summer long, root veggies, pumpkins and squashes through fall and winter. BUT, and yes this is a BIG but, drinking that orangey sweet juice from the Sunshine State mid-winter is, well, essential for one’s health and peace of mind! Something about the cold and still-snowy winter doldrums makes us crave the juice of fruit grown under a constant sun. Orange juice is Beyond Frivolous–it is Extreme Necessity!
In my family we are exceedingly lucky for my mother spends January and February in Florida and part of her routine is to visit the Ter Marsch Grove in Juno Beach for the sole purpose of sending north some of that citrus sunshine. She tells me, “They are a family owned and run business. When we drop in to place an order, they give us a cool refreshing drink of orange juice while we are waiting…yum!” For a few, very short winter weeks, they will mail order the best Honeybells around. My mom sends a box of this particular hybrid (a Dancy tangerine and a Duncan grapefruit combine to make the Honeybell, sweetest of all oranges) and a box of Ruby Red grapefruits…pure Heaven!
There is plenty I could impart about the medicinal value of vitamin C, along with it’s exquisite taste; in fact, last year, while traveling with my ten students through three countries, I made sure to start each morning with a glass of another very sweet variety, the Blood Orange (easy to find in both Geneva and Rome), the juice squeezed by hand, pulpy and rich red. I am convinced this brew outwitted every strain of flu and cold virus through our travels up and down the Alps, across to Italy, and back again. Vitamin C aside, did you know oranges contain substantial amounts of potassium and calcium, as well as the B vitamins niacin and thiamine? Remember to drink the pulp for all that goodness…
So, how to juice, you ask? There are several methods, however, there is nothing simpler than a small glass or porcelain hand-held juicer. We use a hand-press citrus juicer, that with only a few tugs will get every last precious drop. Our children loved the electric citrus juicer at their grandparent’s, standing on the chair pushed up to the countertop, their faces as glowing as the golden elixir they created. Any of these three will work for you.
As far as what to juice, my personal favorite is two Honeybells to one grapefruit, juiced to shared… you can not help but savor every drop. For those of you with a more discerning palate you can juice something more exotic like satsuma tangerines with your citrus juicer, and then add fresh persimmon, juiced or blended. My daughter’s friend prepared this drink for me last Thanksgiving in LA. According to her (she really knows her way around the kitchen and cooks professionally for the stars), “There is no recipe for juicing in general, you just have to figure out what goes good with what and then play with the proportions. It’s actually fun to just throw in whatever (within reason) and have the end result be a surprise!” Her juice certainly was a memorable wake-up for our LA day of flea markets and beach vistas!
So, head to your local co-op or grocery store, or contact one of the farms who will mail order those citrus orbs straight from their family-owned Florida grove to your kitchen. (Find a list here in The Palm Beach Post). Squeeze yourself some Fresh juice and as you drink in all that nourishment, savor the golden sun and the salt rippling off the aqua-green ocean. Even for those of us closeted by monstrous snow banks, and spiky icicles adorning our eaves, you can detect the promise of a hot summer ahead with every sip of that orange juice.