Tourist tip #364 / DIY oranges: Citrus-picking season has arrived!
They say the best fruit is fresh-picked. You and the family can find out for yourself.
As summer wanes and autumn sets in, Israeli citrus comes into season. At the start of the season the oranges may be sour and the pomelos short of their full flavor, but sweeties (pomelit) start sugary and stay that way and the rest are already developing that delicious, sharp citrus tang. They say the best is fruit straight off the tree: why not treat the family and find out for yourself at the same time?
To be sure, one can buy oranges and other citrusy fruits at the market almost year-round. When not in season, what you're buying is usually refrigerated. And now what you're getting is straight off the tree. Or, straight from the truck that came from the warehouse that housed the fruit straight from the tree; point being, it hasn't been chilled for weeks on end.
So you can get gorgeous fresh oranges, of several species, at the market; pink grapefruits and sweeties; newly picked tangerines are showing up too, as are giant think-rinded pomelos, and much more. Or, you can hie thee to an appropriate orchard and pluck them off the trees yourself.
It's a fun few hours to spend with the family away from the city crowds, and the scent of an citrus orchard is like no other.
Do note that you can't just hop over the fence of any orchard and make off with sacks of fruit. Farmers frown on that. But all over Israel, mainly in the center and north, are pick-it-yourself orchard businesses (For other self-pick farm options – and flowers – too: see Tourist tip #351 / At Israeli farms, take your pick and eat it, too).
To find one near you, the best option is to search the Internet – type in "israel pick oranges" for instance. Make sure to call the phone number for the place you choose to make sure they are open, at what precise hours, what they charge – it's never free – and whether they have other facilities, such as a playground or activities for smaller children. Some only open on weekdays, some only on Shabbat; some open from 9 or 10 AM until mid-afternoon and no more, while others remain open until dusk.
And don't forget to ask if they stay open if it rains. The rainy season is approaching and you don't want to drive to a kibbutz and slog through the mud only to find yourself facing a locked gate.