Oranges are a staple fruit the year-round, but their prime season coincides with the colder months, when their sweet juiciness is as welcome as a ray of sunshine. Most oranges in this country come from California, Arizona and Florida. California and Arizona oranges are ideal for eating because they have thick, easy-to-peel skins; the thicker skins are thought to be a protection against the dry western climate.
The Valencia is a perfect choice for a sweet and juicy snack. This is an is ideal for juicing; its skin is thin and smooth, and its flesh is heavy with tangy juice. Valencias are also excellent for eating, though they're not as easy to peel as Navels. The orange coloured skin may sometimes revert to green, indicating that the tree was in blossom at the same time as fruit was on the tree. As a result, sometimes green on the skin means that the fruit is particularly sweet from having more ripening time on the tree.
Handling & Storage:
- Color doesn’t necessarily indicate an orange’s ripeness or quality. Oranges are always picked when they’re ripe, but Florida oranges (with the exception of organic fruit) are often dyed with food coloring. This isn’t true of oranges produced in California or Arizona, where state laws prohibit adding color to citrus fruits.
- Look for oranges that are firm to the touch and feel heavy for their size, which indicates they’re full of juice. If you’re looking for juice oranges, thin-skinned specimens are juicier than thick-skinned varieties. Avoid fruit with soft, spongy spots or any signs of mold.
- Fully ripe oranges can sometimes turn green, especially Valencias; it’s called "regreening" and it’s a natural process that can occur if there is ripe fruit on a tree at the same time that the tree is producing blossoms. When the tree produces chlorophyll to feed its blossoms, the mature fruit also receives some, which contributes a green tint to its skin. Oranges that have "regreened" tend to be extra-sweet because they’re tree-ripened.
- Store oranges at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.