One of the true luxuries of a Naples, Florida, vacation is enjoying fresh citrus fruit: fresh-cut grapefruit and fresh-squeezed juices at breakfast, plus delectable Key Lime desserts. Naples citrus fruit travel well, making them the perfect gift to take or ship home.
Naples still has working citrus farms. Some, such as Silver Strand, are owned by families of the original Collier County settlers.
We love visiting the local citrus stands (listed below). You’ll get a real feel for Old Naples and local traditions — plus lots of delicious samples of local varieties of fruits and juices.
Here’s what you’re likely to find, depending on the season:
• Honeybell tangelos. Bright orange, bell-shaped, and astonishingly sweet, these are actually a cross between a Dancy Tangerine and a Duncan Grapefruit. You can also find the very similar Orlando tangelos.
• Tangerines. These are closely related to the mandarin orange, and are usually sweeter and easier to peel than an orange. According to the University of Florida Extension, Dancy tangerines are one of the oldest tangerine varieties known in Florida, dating back to 1867. Dancys can be hard to find now; you’re more likely to see Robinson, Sunburst, and Honey (Murcott) tangerines in the stores.
• Oranges. Expect to see Temple oranges (easy to peel) and Valencia juice oranges. Also small Hamlin oranges in the fall.
• Grapefruit. Star Red and Ruby Red grapefruit are not only rich, dark pink, but they are low in acid. Choose the traditional Pink grapefruit if you prefer tartness.
• Key limes. Made famous in the Florida Keys south of Naples, delicious Key limes are grown throughout the Caribbean and are also known as West Indian limes and bartender’s limes; they are related to the thicker-skinned Mexican lime. Native to Southeast Asia, the Key lime was brought to Florida by the Spanish. In Florida, the Key lime harvest is June – September.
• Meyer lemons. Sweet Meyer lemons are typically thin-skinned, juicy, and may grow as large as a small grapefruit. The Meyer lemon was introduced from China in the early 20th century and is not considered to be a “true” lemon. The modern Meyer lemon is prized by chefs for its fragrance and flavor.
Florida citrus varieties are only available on a seasonal basis, with the prime harvesting season running November through May. Here’s a helpful chart from Temple Citrus listing which varieties you’ll find by month.