Watch a video to learn about this and other
discoveries that improve our daily lives.
Ambersweet, a cold-hardy orange variety.
More than 70
percent of all citrus fruits grown in the United States are varieties developed
by the ARS citrus breeding program.
In Florida, we've come up with citrus
varieties that are higher yielding with increased disease resistance, better
color, and longer shelf life. A major success story is Ambersweet, a cold-hardy
citrus that's been approved for use in orange juice products. Because it
withstands Florida's occasional cold snaps that can ruin most citrus,
Ambersweet is being widely planted in the Sunshine State. It took 20 years of
patient breeding to develop it, but the payoff is huge.
If there's usually a grapefruit in your
shopping cart, you may already have met up with a favorite ARS-created variety.
It's a red-fleshed, thin-skinned, seedless grapefruit that was developed and
released in 1987. Since then, over 4 million Flame nursery trees have been
propagated in Florida. No other grapefruit variety has ever been so widely
accepted and planted.
Orange sections can now be prepeeled by a
patented ARS process that uses commercially available food-grade enzymes. The
process also removes the bitter white portion of grapefruit peel, eliminating
hand-peeling and allowing more precise portion control. And the prepeeled fruit
is ideal for school lunch programs and restaurants.
Keeping oranges fresh is another
citrus-oriented task we've taken on. Oranges that have been covered with our
specially designed coating will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks at room
temperature. In that time, fruit treated with the usual grocer's coatings will
look shrunken and discolored.
More than 70 percent of all citrus fruits grown in the United States are
varieties developed by the ARS citrus breeding program.
Fifty years ago, frozen orange juice was
just a flavorless commercial flop. The only orange juice you could get back
then was either squeezed from fresh oranges, mixed from a relatively tasteless
concentrate, or poured from a can-and it tasted like can!
All this at a time when lots of good Florida
oranges were going to waste.
Then, in 1946, Louis G. MacDowell, director
of research for the Florida Citrus Commission, had an idea. He suggested that
adding a little single-strength fresh juice, or "cut-back," to
slightly overconcentrated orange juice might restore the flavor and aroma lost
during vacuum evaporation.
He took the idea to USDA researchers, the
folks with the equipment and expertise to help develop the idea. Not only did
it work but the vastly improved concentrate could be easily frozen. And so
began the success story that's now such a familiar sight on the breakfast
table-frozen concentrated orange juice.