A baseball-sized citrus fruit that generally has an orange skin and flesh that is a segmented ball of pulp and juice wrapped in a thin semi-transparent membrane. Its flesh is juicy and may have a sweet to slightly bitter taste, depending on the variety. The flesh is enclosed in a skin that is made up of two layers. The aromatic outer layer is the zest, which has a shiny appearance and is generally orange in color but can also be green, yellow or orange with patches of red. The layer under the zest is the pith, which is a light creamy color and has a soft texture with a bitter taste. They are grown in regions with a subtropical or Mediterranean climate. There are three main types of oranges: the sweet oranges; the loose-skinned mandarins; and the bitter oranges. Oranges are a good source of vitamins, such as vitamin C and four B vitamins, high in dietary fiber, and are also a good source of many important minerals.
How to use:
Most oranges make a great snack that can be eaten out-of-hand. The flesh is generally sweet and juicy. The juice from oranges is very popular worldwide. Oranges are also used in making salads, desserts, ice creams, sorbets, and some savory dishes. They are also used as a garnish. The juice, flesh and zest can all be used.
The loose-skinned mandarins can also be eaten out-of-hand and peel much easier than oranges. They are used in salads and desserts and can generally be substituted for oranges in most recipes. As with oranges, the juice, flesh and zest of the mandarins can be used.
The flesh and juice from the bitter orange are sour and are not eaten raw. They are used to make jams, jellies and marmalades. The oil from their skin is very aromatic is used to flavor liqueurs.
At their best:
Sweet oranges have varieties that are available at different times throughout the year so generally there are sweet oranges available all year round. Navels are available November to May, peaking in January, February and March. Valencia oranges are available February to October, peaking in May, June and July.
Mandarin oranges have varieties that are available from November through April. Canned mandarin oranges are available throughout the year.
Bitter oranges are not readily available throughout the year. They are generally available late winter and early spring.
How to buy:
Select fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, which indicates that it contains more juice. Avoid any fruit that has damaged, shriveled, or moldy spots on the skin. The skin should be fairly smooth and it may have slight greening or a rough brown patch, which will not affect the quality of the orange. The rough brown spot is called "russeting" and the greening is caused by reabsorbtion of chlorophyll after the fruit has ripened on the tree and is then exposed to warm temperatures.
The mandarins will feel soft and puffy compared to other oranges because of their loose skin. Their deep orange skin will be slightly glossy and should not be damaged, shriveled, or have moldy spots. Select fruit that is heavy for its size.
If purchasing a bag of fruit, be sure to check the fruit carefully. Check for mold or damaged spots. If there is mold on any of the oranges, it will cause the rest of the fruit to deteriorate more quickly.
Oranges can be stored at room temperature for up to 7 days. When stored at room temperature, they will be juicier than if stored in the refrigerator. To keep oranges for a longer period of time, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator. If they are stored in a plastic bag, leave the bag open or be sure it has some holes perforated in it to allow air circulation. Proper air circulation is necessary to avoid moisture being trapped in the bag. Moisture promotes mold growth. If stored in the refrigerator, the oranges will stay fresh for up to two weeks.
Tangerines and other mandarins do not store as well as oranges. They can be refrigerated for 5 to 7 days.
Orange juice and zest can be frozen and then stored for up to a year in the freezer. The juice will retain its vitamin C for up to a year if frozen properly.
bergamot = bergamot orange
This is a small acidic orange, used mostly for its peel. Don't confuse it with the herb that goes by the same name
Blood Orange (Sanguinelli)
The blood orange is a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) with crimson, blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange; its skin is usually pitted, but can be smooth. The juice is sweet but somewhat bitter and less acidic than that of regular table oranges. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanin, a pigment common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The degree of coloration depends on light, temperature and variety.
The blood orange is a hybrid of ancient origin, possibly between the pomelo and the tangerine. It probably originated in Sicily.
These look like grape-sized oranges, and they can be eaten whole. The flavor is a bit sour and very intense. They peak in the winter months.
These have a pleasant enough flavor, but their big asset is that they come out of their peels and segment easily, so you can eat them in your good clothes. Varieties include the popular tangerine, the seedy but juicy honey tangerine = Murcott, the satsuma orange, the sweet and tiny clementine orange, and the seedy and orange-flavored temple orange.
A single mutation in 1820 in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in Brazil yielded the navel orange, also known as the Washington, Riverside, or Bahie navel. The mutation causes navel oranges to develop a second orange at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem. The second orange develops as a conjoined twin in a set of smaller segments embedded within the peel of the larger orange. From the outside, the smaller, and undeveloped twin leaves a formation at the bottom of the fruit that looks similar to the human navel.
Because the mutation left the fruit seedless and, therefore, sterile, the only means available to cultivate more of this new variety is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus tree. Two such cuttings of the original tree were transplanted to Riverside, California in 1870, which eventually led to worldwide popularity.
Today, navel oranges continue to be produced via cutting and grafting. This does not allow for the usual selective breeding methodologies, and so not only do the navel oranges of today have exactly the same genetic makeup as the original tree, and are therefore clones; in a sense, all navel oranges can be considered to be the fruit of that single, over a century-old tree.
On rare occasions, however, further mutations can lead to new varieties.
Persian orange / Seville
The Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe after its introduction to Italy in the 11th century, was bitter. Sweet oranges brought to Europe in the 15th century from India by Portuguese traders, quickly displaced the bitter, and are now the most common variety of orange cultivated. The sweet orange will grow to different sizes and colours according to local conditions, most commonly with ten carpels, or segments, inside.
Portuguese, Spanish, Arab, and Dutch sailors planted citrus trees along trade routes to prevent scurvy. On his second voyage in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought the seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons to Haiti and the Caribbean. They were introduced in Florida (along with lemons) in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, and were introduced to Hawaii in 1792.
The Valencia Orange is an orange first created by the Californian agronomist William Wolfskill, on his farm in Santa Ana. Its name comes from the Spanish city of Valencia, widely known for its excellent orange trees, and for paella. The orange was later sold to the Irvine Company, who would dedicate nearly half of their land to its cultivation. The success of this crop in Southern California may have led to the naming of Orange County. The Irvine Company's Valencia operation later split from the company and became Sunkist. Cultivation of the Valencia in Orange County had all but ceased by the mid-1990s due to rising property costs, which drove what remained of the Southern California orange industry into Florida.
Primarily grown for processing and juice production, Valencia oranges have seeds, varying in number from zero to six per fruit. However, its excellent taste and internal color make it desirable for the fresh markets, too. The fruit has an average diameter of 2.7 to 3 inches (70 - 76 mm). After bloom, it usually carries two crops on the tree, the old and the new. The commercial harvest season in Florida runs from March to June. Worldwide Valencia oranges are prized as the only variety of orange in season during summer.