What are Honeybells?
When people receive honeybell oranges as a gift they immediately feel special. Why? It is because honeybells are considered rare, premium, and elite fruits in the citrus family.
Honeybells are sweet winter citrus fruits with somewhat dimpled, red-orange skin that is easy to peel. They have an identifiable long stem-end neck that makes the fruit appear bell like, hence the name. They are typically the size of an adult hand, about 3 and 3 ½ inches in diameter, but weigh half a pound or so. Compared to other fruits they contain more juice than pulp, so just one medium-sized honeybell can make as much juice as two ordinary oranges.
But where did the honeybell fruit come from?
It is called Honeybell orange, a common misnomer, but it is not exactly an orange. Honeybell is a type of Tangelo – a term used for a tangerine and grapefruit hybrid. Honeybell, which is the same variety as Minneola Tangelo, is a cross between the Dancy tangerine and Duncan grapefruit. This gives them their unique blend of sweet and tart flavor. The only actual difference between the two is that Honeybells are grown in Florida where they are handled with utmost care and grown bigger and juicier than the regular Minneola tangelos.
Who actually first discovered this rare citrus is still a mystery. Official records state that the Honeybell was released for agricultural purposes in 1931 by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Horticulture Research Station in Orlando.
As mentioned above, honeybell orange season is very short as they are only available from late December to January.
This fruit is in high demand so you won’t usually find them in regular grocers or fruit stands. You can only get honeybell tangelos directly from Florida orange orchards or farms by ordering online or by phone. Honeybell devotees order them ahead of time to ensure they get to enjoy the intense, awesome juice and flavor of this delicate fruit.
The good thing about pre-ordered premium fruits – aside from the fact that you are guaranteed to get them once they become available – is that you need not worry about typical citrus problems like mold, blemishes, dry cells, or softened pockets. The fruit that gets delivered right to your doorstep are of top quality and certainly at their best form.
To date, Honeybells are grown in Florida, along the Indian River, where they get to enjoy the best climate and soil condition to grow big, juicy and sweet. Honeybells are a real treat, however, since they require high maintenance and their crop sizes are very unpredictable each year, they cost a bit more than regular oranges.