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A temple orange is a flavorful orange with a bright orange rind. The rind is thick and rough, and the fruit is approximately oval-shaped, with flesh that blends sweet and tart flavors. These fruits are widely cultivated in Florida and can be found in other regions of the world as well. Many grocery stores carry them in season during the dead of winter, and they can also be grown at home, for people who live in warm, citrus-friendly climates. Nurseries can order temple orange seedlings by request and staff may have advice on the best planting locations and gardening practices to keep a seedling thriving.
This fruit is a type of tangor, a tangerine-orange cross. Temple oranges tend to have numerous seeds and they are very easy to peel, thanks to the genes for loose skin inherited from tangerines. The thickness of the rind makes the temple orange a good choice of fruit for zesting, as it is easy to pull off flavorful rind without hitting the bitter pith.
These fruits can be eaten fresh out of hand, juiced, and used in preserves and compotes. Temple oranges are commonly seen on temple altars because their bright color is aesthetically pleasing and they are common features in secular fruit displays as well. In season, these fruits are flavorful and very juicy. High quality temple orange specimens should feel heavy for their size and should not have signs of wrinkling or browning, with taut, plump rinds. The fruits should be stored in a cool, dry place and if they are not going to be used within approximately a week, it is advisable to convert them into preserves.
If temple oranges are not available, people can substitute other tangors such as Murcotts and Kings. Tangors have a very distinctive flavor that is tarter than tangerines and sweeter than oranges. Recipes that call for tangor varietals should ideally be made with a tangor like a temple orange to ensure that the flavor comes out as desired. Conversely, if people are finding recipes with tangerines too sweet or oranges too tart, they may want to try a tangor to strike a balance between the flavors.
If a local grocery store does not carry temple oranges, it may be possible to order them directly. A number of citrus producers ship crates directly to consumers while the fruits are in season. People who cannot eat a whole crate of fruit can ask friends and family if they are interested in going in on a group order.
My high school band, orchestra, and choir programs used to sell cases of citrus fruits as a fundraiser. It is much easier to sell grapefruits and temple oranges than it is the other things I tried to sell in middle and high school, like magazines and candies. Oranges are seen as healthy and have so many uses, people are happy to buy them, especially in the dead of winter.
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