Thursday, 5 April 2012

Picking Our Own Oranges!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Every year for the last 15 years we have gone to Campbell's Orchards in Prince Edward County and picked our own apples.  It is a family tradition that we love.  There is something to be said for eating an apple that has just been picked that second.  We have not missed a year yet.  We love it so much that 7 years ago we planted an Empire Apple tree in our back yard.  5 years ago we planted a Macintosh Apple tree in beside it.
    How could we go to Florida and not pick oranges?  As you enter the Florida Welcome Centre they hand out free glasses of orange juice (of course when we arrived it was on a Sunday, so they did not have samples).  Oranges are synonymous with Florida.  Having said all of this, try to get someone in Florida to tell you where you can pick some.  Every single person we asked had that same blank face and replied "I have no idea".  In the end I found a place online just up from Orlando called "Showcase of Citrus".  This "pick your own" place boasts over 50 different types of citrus.  I sat in the car as we pulled up clapping my hands with excitement like I was 3.  When we were there they were finishing picking grapefruit, and valencia oranges as well as tangerines.
    We picked valencia oranges.  I was so excited.  As you leave the little store there are stacks of what look like lacrosse rackets at the door.   Apparently these are what you use to pick the tall oranges.  In the apple orchard they use ladders.  The first thing that I noticed as a skipped, yes you read that correctly, I skipped like a little girl, was the smell.  Growing up my mother wore orange blossom perfume.  For me the smell of orange blossom perfume is synonymous with my mother.  I stood still, eyes closed breathing in that smell.  At first I could not place that smell.  Was it honey suckle?  No, wait... ORANGE BLOSSOM.  The perfume smelled exactly like the real thing.  I just stood there in one place inhaling the smell of my childhood. The kids all ran around me, Christopher, who knows what he was doing, I just stood there, eyes closed, like the world around me ceased to exist.
    When we pick apples there are always windfalls.  There the apple are just lying beneath the tree.  I was shocked to see oranges on the ground.  It seemed so alien to me.  I felt like someone should be in trouble for wasting all of those oranges.  I wonder if they use the windfall oranges for juice like they do with the windfall apples?  Did I mention that they sold fresh squeezed orange juice like they do apple cider here?
    As we left to pick our oranges there was a sign at the door "please do not eat oranges in the grove, pay first."  When we were out in the grove I was excitedly picking all the oranges my arms could hold, when I look over at my husband standing there peeling an orange.  "You're not supposed to do that !" I tell him.  He looks sheepish and replies, "but I always eat the apples right off the tree, I just want to see what an orange right off the tree tastes like."  He gets his orange peeled and puts it in his mouth.  He has that expectant look on his face like he knows that this is going to be the experience of his life.  I am standing there waiting for the earth to move.  "and?"  his reply "this orange is really hot.  Turns out it's better chilled."  They really are better chilled.  In fact these are the most delicious oranges I have ever eaten.  The juice runs down your arm.  They look a little sickly, with their brown and orange skin.  I know that the oranges I buy in the grocery store have been sprayed to be orange, but still it takes a while to process that fact when I look at my fresh off the tree oranges.
    All and all, if you find yourself in Florida during orange season (November - April) find yourself a grove.  It is a great adventure that ends with orange juice running down your arm.

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