No one likes to be disappointed. It's not a fun feeling. Sadly in our modern grocery store, it's an experience that happen way too often. This bring us to today's question - why do you go to the grocery store, pick out what look like delicious oranges, only to take them home and find that they just suck? No flavor. Or dried out. Or not very juicy. What happened to that delicious. I once knew. Why does this happen? There are several reasons why grocery store quality oranges are often a let down. After I share those, I will also give you some advice on how you actually can find good citrus at the grocery store.
Flavor is NOT Number 1
We would love to think that flavor is the most important thing for citrus growers. The sad reality is that this is often not the case. Being easy to ship and shelf life are often closer to the top of the list. I think the biggest victim of this has been the Navel orange. They have been bred to ship easier with a thicker, more durable rind. Also the growers wants more productive and easier to manage trees. This is why you need to look out for the Heirloom Navels. These oranges the original Navel brought into California, grown the same way they were grown then, which produces a better tasting piece of fruit. They may not last as long but they taste so good you won't have them long.
Consistent in a brand can be a problem as well. The really big citrus companies harvest their fruit from many orchards/farms/groves, in different areas. Naturally this will lead to inconsistent fruit. Sometimes it might be good, other times it may not be. What you can do to overcome is to buy from the smaller companies. Ones that focus on flavor. Ripe to You (Rising C Ranches), Suntreat, and Ceceilia are three of my favorite citrus packers. The quality is very consistent, so I know to be on the look out for their oranges.
Picked for Appearance
If the fruit looks ripe, it is ready to sell. Or in the case of tomatoes if you can get them ripe looking before they get to the store they are "fine". An orange needs time to develop sugar even after it appears orange on the outside.