The flesh is sweet and juicy, though not juicy enough to be used for juice production.
The orange can be left on the tree and not picked until it is needed.
Jaffa Oranges were grown in Palestine and in the Jaffa area before the creation of Israel. The variety originated as a mutation of the Beladi variety of oranges, near Jaffa, around the mid-1800s.
Jaffa became the main city for exporting the oranges grown in that area. The quality of the oranges was noted as early as 1886 (by the American consul in Jerusalem, Henry Gillman.)
Development of the orange export industry was made possible by two things that came together at the end of the 1800s: the advent of steam ships, which could get the oranges to markets abroad faster, and the installation of motorized pumps for irrigation which allowed increased production to meet the demand.
The oranges were wrapped in paper, and then packed in wood cases, about 120 to 150 oranges per case, weighing about 35 kg. Wood for the packing cases had to be imported from Europe.
By 1892, the firm Goodyear and Co. was shipping 15,000 to 20,000 cases in season every 10 days to Liverpool, England. The oranges were admitted duty-free into the UK.
Prominent in the commercialization of the Jaffa orange export market were a group of German settlers in Sarona, near Jaffa, known as Templers.
Jaffa Oranges are now (2004) being priced out of the market in Europe by oranges from Spain and Greece, which being EU members, can sell their oranges without tariffs applied to them. The oranges are still remembered fondly in the UK, especially through the name of the biscuit called a “Jaffa Cake”.
Literature & Lore
Richard the Lionheart is reputed to have brought some Jaffa oranges back to England (though how they’d survive months of journeying on horseback, and all his alleged adventures on the way back, is anyone’s guess — never mind the fact that the variety didn’t emerge until 650 years after he died.)
Helmut Glenk, Horst Blaich, Manfred Haering. From desert sands to golden oranges: the history of the German Templer. Trafford Publishing, 2005. pp 56 – 60.