Everyone 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.
Known as a sweet orange, Valencia Oranges are on average, 2 3/4 to 3 inches in diameter. Valencia’s have a bright orange color and product o to 6 seeds in each fruit.
You can find Valencia Oranges blossoming in the months between March and June. Valencia oranges are able to adapt in various climates, so they can be grown in many different states and countries. Some types that are available for planting are the Rohde Red Valencia, which has a superior peel that is internally flesh colored.
About 50% of this citrus fruit that are produced in the crops are Valencia oranges. It is also the main variety being produced in Florida today.
There are usually two crops after blossoming on the tree – old and new. Its best quality is internally, which is very juicy and sweet, making it a great option for both processed markets and fresh markets. You will rarely find Valencia being harvested before a freeze hit, since it is a late variety.
Most of the hedging is done before or after the harvesting of the crop, but must be done frequently during the same time annually – this helps to prevent having to remove a lot of fruit and wood.
When you’re picking out a selection of Valencia oranges, make sure that they are firm and heavy. It is best to get those that are thin-skinned and smooth. Make sure there are no bruises, mold or other irregularities on them. As Valencia oranges begin to fully ripen, they become a golden color.
During the warm seasons, while the oranges are still in the tree, their skin reabsorbs chlorophyll from the leaves, which causes them to turn green again – this begins at the stem. At this point, the oranges are actually ready, sweet and juicy.
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 http://www.gourmayeats.com