Oranges originate from South East Asia, but are now available in most warmer climates, with the United States being the major producer of oranges in the world.
Oranges were not named for their color. The word orange comes from the Sanskrit naranga which means “fragrant”.
Depending on the variety, oranges are available all year long, with a peak season during the winter months.
There are three main varieties of oranges: sweet, loose-skinned and bitter.
Sweet: these oranges are for eating and juicing. They may have seeds or they may not. They are usually hard to peel. The three most popular sweet oranges are navel, Valencia and blood oranges.
Loose-skinned: these tend to be a part of the mandarin orange family. They can be sweet or even tart!
Bitter: these oranges are too bitter to eat raw. They need to be cooked to be palatable, for example, orange marmalade or bigarade sauce. Bitter oranges are also used to make essential oils and to make candied peel. Two types of oranges to look for when needing a bitter orange are Seville and bergamot.
Oranges can safely be stored on the countertop for 2 – 3 days, but keep longer in the refrigerator, up to 14 days.
How to Select
Select an orange that is heavy for its size and shows no signs of bruising, or has any shriveled or moldy skin. If possible, pick a brilliant colored orange.
Oranges have been touted to have extremely high Vitamin C, which helps maintain a healthy immune system. They are also have high fiber and no fat, which means you will be able to lose those extra holiday pounds easier! Oranges also have a fair amount of Folic Acid, Calcium, Potassium and Thiamine! So, not only are oranges good for anyone to eat, but they are particularly healthy for expectant mothers.
Once cut or squeezed, the Vitamin C quickly disappears. After only 8 hours at room temperature (or 24 hours in the refrigerator), approximately 25% of the Vitamin C is lost. Thus, canned or bottled orange juice products tend to have lower Vitamin C content unless they are fortified!
Depending on how you prepare your oranges and to what you are going to serve your orange-based recipe with, try one of these wines:
Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Grenache Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or a Syrah.
Oranges are unique in the fact that if you are making a sweet dish, you can use spices like: cinnamon and nutmeg with it. But oranges, also, go well with garlic, basil and thyme in savory dishes!
1 medium orange = 1/3 – 1/2 cup juice = 2 – 3 tbsp. peel = 3/4 cup diced flesh
Segment: Peel the entire fruit first. Then, holding the fruit in one hand, cut alongside each side of the membranes. Try to leave as little of the flesh as possible. As you continue around the fruit, continue to cut between the membranes and the segments, folding the membranes back like you were reading a book.
Zesting: Rub the skin on a grater. Use a brush to remove the zest from the grater. Be careful not to get too much pith (white substance between the peel and the flesh) as this is very bitter.
Julienne: Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest off of the orange going lengthwise. Then using a sharp knife, cut these strips into very thin strips lengthwise.
Juicing: Before juicing any citrus fruit, roll the fruit on the counter. This will soften the insides and release more juices. Then, cut the fruit in half. Using a wooden juicer (or a fork), push it into the flesh and twist it around until all the juice has been released.
Peeling: Cut a slice of peel from each end of the orange. Standing the fruit upright, continue to slice the peel away from the flesh without removing too much flesh.
Trivia In China, orange peels are used to aid in digestion. They believe that citrus fruits are warming, thus very stimulating on the digestive tract.
In Medieval times, oranges and orange blossoms were used on a couple’s wedding day. It was believed that the scent of oranges was calming to the couple on their wedding night. They were also thought to be a symbol of fertility.