Oranges are a common citrus that most people already know quite a bit about so we’re going to keep this one light with a few facts, tips, and recipes. If oranges aren’t in your diet, it’s that time of year to add them! Right now they are in season (most affordable) and add valuable nutrients to your diet.
Important Facts About Oranges
Oranges play a crucial role in getting my “sunshine” in the winter. I know the sun is a dose of Vitamin D rather than C, but the bright citrus of oranges makes me feel fresh like summertime.
- Did you know that oranges have approximately 90% of our daily value of Vitamin C BUT don’t top the produce list for highest Vitamin C dose? Red and green bell peppers, kale, and kiwi are just a few fruits and vegetables that have more Vitamin C than oranges.
- Oranges have a nice serving of dietary fiber.
- Oranges fall under 1 of 2 categories, bitter and sweet oranges. The most common oranges in our grocery stores are SWEET oranges such as navel oranges, Valencia oranges, clementines/mandarins/tangerines, blood oranges, and tangelos.
- Bitter oranges that are likely to affect food/drinks we know are: Seville Orange (marmalade), Bergamot Orange (perfumes and Earl Grey tea), and Trifoliate Oranges (also used for marmalade. Who knew?!)
- The optimal season for oranges is November – April with different varieties having shorter/longer growing seasons within this time frame.
- Citrus became a popular produce to take on long ship voyages because it helped ward off scurvy.
- Clementines and tangerines are varietals in the mandarin family. The names are often used interchangeably for the same fruit even though they all have slight differences with clementines being the smallest in the mandarin family.
Fun Facts About Oranges
- Oranges originated around 4000 BC in Southeast Asia.
- Oranges don’t come from the wild. They are a hybrid of the pomelo and tangerine.
- What came first? The fruit or the color? Fruit for the win. The color name dates back to around 1542.
- The name “navel orange” comes from the belly button formation on the end of it. The bigger the navel the sweeter the orange. (Tip for choosing a perfect orange!)
- Oranges made their way to this side of the world by way of well-known explorers: Christopher Columbus introduced them to the Caribbean, Ponce de Leon likely brought them to Florida, and Spanish missionaries brought them to California.
- What’s with oranges in the Christmas stocking? Lore has it that oranges represent the gold St. Nicholas put in the toes of stockings.
How to Choose an Orange
I love to buy oranges in bulk because they go so fast in our house and it’s cheaper to buy them that way. By the way, ALDI has killer prices on oranges this time of year! They are $1.99/ 3 lb. bag here right now.
Buuuut, there’s nothing worse than buying a bag and not realizing there’s one orange in the bunch that inevitably goes bad within days of buying them and leaves you fishing out a gross furry rotting orange that has now shared the love with its neighbors. Whether I buy individual oranges or a bag of them, I inspect all oranges in the bag as well as possible.
- Make sure all oranges are firm with no soft spots.
- We usually buy navel oranges and clementines/tangerines/mandarins because you rarely get a seed. There is no citrus worse than a seedy citrus.
- Take note of the tip above about checking the size of the navel.
There is a myth floating around that you cannot freeze citrus. However, I searched the USDA website and citrus did not make their list of items not to freeze (canned food and eggs in their shells are the only thing they referenced as absolutely do not freeze). However, oranges are best consumed fresh for quality purposes. You may freeze them several ways if you wish. I have not tried either way but will be now to see what happens with the quality.
Wet Pack Freezing Oranges
- Put orange slices in a freezer safe container.
- Cover with heavy syrup made with 40% sugar.
Dry Pack Freezing Oranges
For best results I recommend using a FoodSaver as everything I have read stresses getting as much air out of the freezer bag as possible.
- Pack oranges slices in a freezer bag.
- Remove as much air out of the bag as possible.
NOTE: You can also flash freeze these by laying them on a cookie sheet with wax, freezer, or parchment paper and freezing in a single layer, not touching each other for an hour before putting in a freezer bag and following the directions above.
I’ll be following directions for canning oranges at the comprehensive link below now that I know you can safely water bath can them! For now I’ll send you there since I have no experience with that.
Recipes with Oranges
Check out this article for comprehensive information on oranges from tree to preservation (freezing and canning).