Orange Varieties Everyone Should Be Eating More

orange-varietiesEveryone loves oranges because they are the sweetest and better tasting of the citrus fruits. Oranges help boost the immune system and nourish the body with important nutrients it needs to fight off diseases. With a sweet and juicy interior, oranges are perfect for a light and healthy snack. Here are the most popular varieties and their typical availability:

1. Navel Oranges – Navel oranges are large and round with a deep yellowish-orange color. The skin is stony with a medium-thick peel. Navel oranges are usually seedless and really easy to peel and are in season from November through February. Other types of Navels are the Holiday Red Navel Oranges, in season November through December, and the Western Navel Oranges from growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which are in season January through May.

2. Temple Oranges – Temples are Florida’s finest eating oranges, with an oval shape and deep orange color. They have a rich sweet and tangy flavor, are easy to peel or section, and few seeds. Temple Oranges are in season from January through February.

3. Valencia Oranges – Valencias have a juicy, rich flavor and aroma. It is medium to large in size, a round-to-oval shape, and a yellow to orange color that sometimes can be tinged green. The Valencia Oranges has a smooth texture with a thin peel and are in season from March through June.

4. Clementines – Small oranges with a deep and glossy orange exterior that is a relative of the tangerine. Clementines are a small and usually seedless variety of the mandarin. They are refreshing, both sweet and tart, and best whole or in salads. They are usually available November through January.

5. Tangelos – Known by their distinctive bell shape, tangelos are the result of a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit for a remarkably sweet and juicy fruit. They are loaded with sweetly tart juice and have a stony texture skin, which is fairly easy to peel. Tangelos are in season November through December. The most popular tangelo variety is the Minneola Tangelo, often called the Honeybell Tangelo. Honeybells have a deep red-orange color with a very sweet flavor, high juice content and only a few seeds. Honeybell Tangelos are in season from December through February.

6. Tangerines – Tangerines are a small, dark orange fruit with an easy-to-peel or “zipper” skin, and a rich and honey sweet juice. Tangerines are ideal for desserts or as a sweet nibble. Some of the tangerine varieties available nationwide are Sunburst or Treasure Coast Tangerines, in season November through April, and the Murcott or Honey Tangerines, available February through April.

7. Ortaniques – Ortaniques are a rare cross between a sweet Valencia Orange and a Tangerine. They have a bright orange color, a rich sweet flavor and are easy to peel and section. This hybrid blend received its unique name from OR-orange, TAN-gerine, un-IQUE. Richly luscious and loaded with Vitamin C, the Ortanique is perfect for eating fresh as a snack and for juicing. These oranges can only be found online, directly from Florida growers. Available March through April.

All About Temple Oranges

Temple oranges, also known as tangor, are hybrid citrus fruits. They’re hybrids of the mandarin orange and the sweet orange.

The mandarin orange is a tangerine – this is how tangor came into play. The name tangor is a combo of tangerine and orange. There are all sorts of varieties of the temple oranges, there’s

  • King, or King of Siam
  • Murcott, or Honey Murcott, Murcott Honey Orange, Red, Big Red
  • Ortanique, which are found in Jamaica – comes from orange, tangerine and unique
    Umatilla or Umatilla Tangelo

Then there are the Temple oranges from Japan, including:

  • Iyokan, also known as sweet oranges
  • Miyauchi Iyo, has an early ripening
  • Othani Iyo, has a later ripening
  • Kiyomi, Trovita navel orange
  • Setom, Trovita navel orange

Temple oranges are from the class of Eudicots and the Rutaceae family.

Temple oranges are thought to be identical to the Magnet orange in Japan. The seed of the temple orange was believed to be discovered by a fruit buyer by the name of Boyce. He went to Jamaica in 1896 to buy oranges – this was after a really cold winter in Florida. After finding it, he sent the budwood to Winter Park, Florida. Word began to spread quickly about the new find. One was planted in the grove of L.A. Hakes, who then spread the word to W.C. Temple. Temple then recommended it to H.E. Gillett, the owner of Buckeye Nurseries. The orange was then named, propagated and marketed in 1919. It wasn’t until after 1940 when it began to be planted extensively.

The peel of the temple oranges are between deep orange and deep red. The peel is glossy and a bit rough and thick, almost like leather. You can find about 20 seeds in temple oranges. The tree it blossoms in it thorny and bushy – it grows better in Florida than Texas and California. Temples are medium to large, between 2 5/8 and 31/4 inches in wide and 2 ¼ and 2 ½ in height. It is usually round or oblate. About 25 percent of the temple oranges are under-developed and have a green inside.

They are very juicy and sweet, making them a great treat or snack throughout the day. The oranges have nitrogen and potassium excessively applied to them, which produces the acidity of the juice. Those with low acid juice have lower rates of nitrogen and potassium, but high rates of phosphorous.

What to Look for in Nutrient Rich Oranges

Pictured: Oranges Preparing to Be Processed for Fresh Squeezed Florida Orange Juice

Pictured: Oranges Prepare to Be Processed for Fresh Squeezed Florida Orange Juice

Oranges contain a range of nutrients that encompass more than just Vitamin C. Oranges contain foliate, fiber, antioxidants, potassium, thiamine calcium and magnesium. It is estimated that one orange can provide as much as 2/3 to all of the daily requirements of Vitamin C.

Oranges are such a versatile fruit tree that this evergreen is widely grown in Florida, Arizona and California. Orange trees can be found in not only sweet orange groves but also as part of an overall landscaping plan. The hearty bitter variety of orange tree tends to be found in landscaping design.

Being the United States third most popular fruit yielding only to apples and bananas is not the oranges only claim to fame. Orange blossoms are pungently sweet and the scent is commonly used in colognes, perfumes and soaps.

When buying oranges look for firm round oranges that seem heavy for there size. This heaviness is an indication that the orange is full of juice.

Some green in oranges may be acceptable. When oranges are left on the tree to ripen they may uptake some of the chlorophyll used by the tree. This will only strengthen the sweetness of the orange.

After you get your oranges home they can be kept in either the refrigerator or on the counter. Oranges will keep well for up to two weeks. Avoid extra moisture when storing oranges never store oranges in plastic bags for this will encourage growth of mold.

Shauna Hanus is a gourmet cook who specializes in creating gourmet recipes. She has extensive experience cooking with easy to find grocery items to create delightful gourmet meals. She is also the publisher of a no cost bi-monthly gourmet newsletter. Her newsletter is always fun and informational packed with tips and trivia you can use everyday. Sign up for her newsletter and learn more about Gourmayeats Weekly Recipe Club at