The following information is just a glimpse of what you will learn and discover during our Tour of an Orange Farm that we run every Wednesday from December to June in Silves, Algarve.
We spent many months, during the Covid pandemic, together with local farmers and Sebaastian from Pash Agency, to highlight the importance of choosing Organic oranges instead of conventional ones.
The result is an award winning short documentary that you can watch here:
Let's start from the main reasons behind the superior quality of the citrus fruits of the Algarve which led to the creation of the PGI "Citrinos do Algarve" in June 1996.
The soil and climatic conditions of the region
With 300 days of sunshine along the year and a soil rich in phosphorus and potassium, orange fruits in Algarve grow with a smooth skin, intense color and juicy pulp.
A type of production that is not intensive
Portugal does not even appear among the leading orange producing countries worldwide. Just to have an idea, Brazil is the biggest producer as of 2019, with more the 20 million metric tons. China follows with 7.2 millions and the US is in the third place with 4.83 millions. Spain is around 4 millions and Italy is at 1.5 millions. Portugal has just 0.3 millions tons production. The Algarve itself represents 70% of national production with mainly small producers, often family run farms, still using fertilisation practices and natural remedies to combat the diseases and insects that affect citrus fruits.In Algarve you will not see planes spraying pesticides from above, as unfortunately happens in many parts of the world, starting from the area of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The late harvest and Juice Content
The sweetness of the Algarve citrus fruits is also due to a relatively late harvest compared to other producing countries like Spain, Morocco and Tunisia. In the Algarve the fruit is kept on the tree, even after reaching the minimum ripeness rate. Sun-ripened in a natural way, exempt from all artificial process of ripening and residues, Oranges from Algarve maintain all their aroma, flavour, sweetness and palate.
Being the percentage of juice one of the most important quality factors in citrus fruits, Algarve oranges have high juice content in the pulp around 30 to 50% depending on the variety, and as such are considered one of the most juicy in the world.
How can I receive a basket of this delicious citrus fruit at home?
Do you live in Algarve or visiting on holidays? We at Algarve Food Experience, have partnered with 3 different producers in Silves district, to create a Citrus Box that you can now order online here. We deliver everywhere in Algarve within 48 hours (for deliveries outside Algarve please get in touch by email to firstname.lastname@example.org). All oranges delivered in our BOX are totally natural, and don't have any kind of ripening process treatment, and neither they contain any materials to make the oranges shine or embellish them.
What are the main Citrus Varieties in Algarve?
Why is better NOT to buy oranges at the supermarket
Very large fruit can sometimes be less sweet and concentrated in flavour. Skin colour is not indicative of quality. Infact untreated ripe oranges are often pale orange or greenish but those sold in supermarkets may be treated with ethylene (to break down the green chlorophyll) and then coloured with orange dye, called Citrus Red 2.
The vast majority of commercial oranges are treated with a wax polish that may have deleterious health effects. If you can't avoid Supermarkets, try at least to find unwaxed (and ideally organic) oranges.