Fresh oranges and monsters in Florida

Citrus season is in full swing in Florida and one of our favorite places to go picking is Showcase of Citrus in Clermont, Fla.

Living in Central Florida for the past seven years and South Florida the previous three, we’ve seen our fair share of farms and groves, but there’s only one that calls us back time and time again.

What makes it so much fun? It’s the open grove. And the monster truck ride.

Between October and June you can stroll through the groves and select your own citrus straight from the tree. Be sure to ask at the shop what’s ready to pick, or use the map printed on the citrus bags to gage what’s in season.

The farm is known for its sustainable heirloom and rare varieties, so expect to find red and white naval oranges, grapefruit, kumquat, lemon, lime and tangerine. This week the tangerines were spectacular.

In the remaining months you can come and enjoy the sweet fragrance of orange blossoms, chase the chickens or take a ride on the truck.

It is, as far as we know, the only eco-tour offered on one of two converted school busses bearing tiger stripes and monster truck wheels. If you have the time it is a bouncy ride into Florida swampland and through a friendly cattle ranch. Along the way, you stop to feed oranges to the cows.

The roadside shop carried local products and plenty of samples of honey, fruits, jellies and juice. That’s the best place to ask for tips when coming to pick.

One bit of advice from our family: pick what you know you can eat. We take the quarter bushel bag and fill it with two or three of each fruit we like. For a family of five, we’re covered for the week.