A new variety of tangerine that is 40 years in the making has hit stores shelves with a declaration of "Florida is back!" Learn about this fruit that has gotten me and many others excited about Florida citrus again.
Florida has had a rough go of it when it comes to the citrus industry. Storms, disease, and competition from California has really hurt the industry.
Key limes haven't been grown since Hurricane Andrew. 100% Florida orange juice is a thing of the past in most grocery stores. Navels and juicing oranges aren't as sweet as they use to be due to the effects of the Asian citrus psyllid bug that leads to citrus greening disease.
I am here to say that not all hope is lost for The Sunshine State. Noble Citrus, out of Winter Haven, Florida has been working on new varieties and has come up with one that I think will put the industry back on the map.
Let's meet the Juicy Crunch Tangerine.
Noble Citrus was founded in 1926 by WG Roe. As any business that has been around for nearly a century that have had their ups and down. They have been hard at work developing new varieties of tangerines over the last 4 decades, looking for fruit that had little to no seeds, sweet delicious flavor, and be easy enough to peel.
They found just that with their Juicy Crunch tangerines. The name comes from the fact that segments are firm enough on the outside that you don't get juice all over your hands. You "crunch" into them and the sweet juicy flavor explodes in your mouth.
This tangerine is so exceptional, Noble decided to market it on it's own merits. They do also sell different types of tangerines in their New Generation Florida tangerine line, which includes the Autumn Honey, another variety that they are looking to release by it's name potentially in the future.
I had the opportunity to tour their facility and meet Quentin Roe, the man that currently runs the show at Noble Citrus. He said that the Juicy Crunch is being marketed by the apple model, in which the variety is packaged, sold separately, and marketed as Juicy Crunch, not just a tangerine. We are seeing the same right now with Sumo Citrus, although that name is a marketing name made up for the Dekopan mandarin from Japan.
The other model would be the peach model in which peaches despite varieties existing are marketed as just peaches - yellow, white flesh, or donut peach is usually the only differences that are marketed. An example of this is the branded Cuties and Halos mandarins which are not all Clementines but different types of mandarins throughout the season.
Quentin's passion for Juicy Crunch is certainly contagious! He talks about it as a proud papa. A tip directly from him - look for the smaller sized fruit if you can. It has the best flavor. He picked some out for me and I completely agree.
🚜 Where Are They Grown?
Juicy Crunch is an exclusive variety grown by Noble Citrus in their citrus groves in the Central Florida area.
Here is what I thought when I had this tangerine for the first time.
Noble certainly has a winner on their hands. The fruit has a high brix level but with enough tart flavor to balance it out, so it's not just sugar water tasting. I had an orange once in California that was just sweet with no acid and it was so bland!
You won't go wrong buying Juicy Crunch. The fruit is most of the time seedless however I have found a few ones that did have maybe 3-4 seeds at most and they were easy to remove. I never found a segment with more than 1 seed. Totally not a big deal.
Eating Tips - You can store them in the fridge for longestivity but the flavor will be better whe you eat them at room temperature.
🛒 When in Season?
You can find the fruit in stores starting in late December and potentially through February. Don't heistate to buy some when you have the chance. You won't regret it.
🛒 Where to Buy
Here are some stores you can search for Juicy Crunch in. I first found them at Publix in Winter Haven, Florida. Keep in mind, even if the store is nationwide or in many states you may not be able to find it in all locations. Sprouts for example you are only going to find them in Florida and Georgia stores.
- Whole Foods Market
- Piggly Wiggly
- Market Basket
- Stop & Shop
- The Fresh Market
- Fresh Thyme
- Food City
- Giant Eagle
- Roche Bros
HEB actually uses Juicy Crunch for it's tangerine juice program. I hear it's been super popular and hard for them to keep in stock!