The orange is technically a hesperidium, a kind of berry. It consists of several easily separated carpels, or sections, each containing several seeds and many juice cells, covered by a leathery skin, containing numerous oil glands. Orange trees are evergreens, seldom exceeding 30 ft in height. The leaves are oval and glossy and the flowers are white and fragrant.

These semitropical evergreens probably originated in Southeast Asia. Columbus and other European travelers brought sweet orange seed and seedlings with them to the New World. By 1820 there were groves in St Augustine, Florida, and by the end of the Civil War oranges were being shipped north in groves. A freeze produced a major set back in production in 1895, but by 1910 crops in Florida had been reestablished.

Florida is the number one citrus producer, producing 70 percent of the U.S. crop, with 90 percent of that going into juice. However, Arizona, Texas, and California also produce small amounts, with variations in color and peel. (Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition).

Orange History

Contrary to what most of us think, this fruit was not named for its color. Instead, the word orange comes from a transliteration of the sanskrit naranga. Which comes from the Tamil naru. Which means “fragrant.”

It’s thought that the reason oranges have long been associated with fertility (and therefore, weddings) is because this lush evergreen tree can simultaneously produce flowers, fruit and foliage.

There are three basic types of orange — sweet, loose-skinned and bitter. Sweet oranges are prized both for eating and for their juice. They’re generally large and have skins that are more difficult to remove than their loose-skinned relatives. They may have seeds or be seedless.

Oranges Above and Beyond Vitamin C

Sometimes we need to take a whole new look at foods that have been right under our noses our whole lives. Such as it is with overlooked oranges.

Start your day with an orange!

Oranges are packed with nutrients and fiber. Oranges are rich in potassium, folate, thiamin, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin and magnesium. Plus, they are low in sodium. They are portable and make a great on-the-go snack. You can also get calcium-fortified orange juice which helps build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.

In recent years, more has been discovered about the orange and why it is so good for us — over and above the obvious vitamin C benefit. Oranges also contain a lot of folate and potassium.

In addition, they provide us with antioxidants and fiber, which might reduce the risk of some diseases in including heart disease and cancers. In addition, the soluble fiber aids in the digestion process.

The two most popular varieties of oranges grown in the U.S. are navels and Valencias. Navels are the good-eating oranges. They are usually fairly large, seedless and peel easily. The Valencia tend to be better oranges for juicing.

Oranges belong to the group of citrus fruits, but they differ from both lemons and grapefruit in that they contain more sugar and less acid. Probably no citrus fruit is used so extensively as oranges. Because of their refreshing subacid flavor, they are much eaten in their fresh state, both alone and in combination with other foods in numerous salads and desserts.

Did you know most of the oranges grown are processed for orange juice? However, the juice version is packed with concentrated sugars, which can cause a spike in blood sugars in some people. Eating a whole orange is just as refreshing and is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream because of the pulp and fiber content.

Selecting Oranges

All varieties should be firm, heavy for size, and have fine-textured skin. Look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with bright, colorful skins. Skin color is not a good guide to quality. Fruits may be ripe even though they may have green spots. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins; this indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly. Citrus fruit peel may vary in thickness, depending on weather conditions during the growing season. Thinner skins tend to be juicier than thick skin fruits.

Storing Oranges

Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Fresh squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen, but whole citrus fruit should not be frozen.

Oranges may exhibit some re-greening of the skin; this does not adversely affect internal fruit quality. Neither does surface scarring, which occurs when wind brushed young fruit against the tree.

Varieties of Oranges

Varieties include the sweet orange, the sour orange, and the mandarin orange, or tangerine. The United States produces the sweet variety. Spain produces the sour variety, Seville, which is used in marmalades and liqueurs.

Most all oranges have a yellow orange color with sizes ranging from small to large. The inside of an orange is plump and juicy. Sweet favorites include the Blood, Hamlin, Jaffa, Navel, Pineapple and Valencia. The color depends on the climate. Florida’s warm days and nights produce oranges with some green in the skin coloring. California and Arizona oranges tend to have deeper orange color due to cooler desert nights.

Overlooked Oranges for Runners

Running can damage muscles, and oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps them heal. Vitamin C can also help you absorb more iron, an important mineral that helps prevent fatigue and low energy. Eat an orange or drink 8 ounces of pure orange juice every day.

An Orange a Day?

A sweet, juicy orange has the power to control the negative effects of sodium in your body. This is because they are rich in potassium, the mineral that helps regulate sodium. An orange a day may help lower your blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and help keep your heart healthy and strong.

Laboratory studies have shown that the limonene found in oranges can help block lung and breast cancers. In a study at Duke University Medical Center, laboratory animals were given a diet of 10 percent limonene. The results showed a 70 percent reduction in cancerous tumors. Among the tumors that remained, 20 percent shrank to less than half their former size. Essentially, the compound gets cancer cells to self destruct.

Orange Peel Provides Health Benefits

Grated citrus zest — the outmost layer of the peel, not the white pith — includes compounds that may provide health benefits, such as inhibiting development of some cancers and lowering cholesterol. Scrub the rind with warm water and a drop of soap before starting to grate. Press a piece of wax paper onto the grater to make clean-up easier; the zest accumulates on the paper instead of getting stuck in the holes of the grater. Best of all, you can use the zest for a flavor boost in low-fat baked goods, pilafs, salad dressings, marinades and fruit salads.

Meet the Members of the Orange Family

Among the more popular sweet oranges are the seedless navel, the juicy, coarse-grained valencia and the thin-skinned, red-fleshed blood orange. Sweet oranges are better eaten fresh than cooked. Loose-skinned oranges are so named because their skins easily slip off the fruit. Their segments are also loose and divide with ease.

Members of the mandarin orange family are all loose skinned; they vary in flavor from sweet to tart-sweet. Bitter oranges, the most well-known of which are the seville and the bergamot, are — as their name implies — are too sour and astringent to eat raw. Instead, they’re cooked in preparations such as marmalade and bigarade sauce. Bitter oranges are also greatly valued for their peel, which is candied, and their essential oils, which are used to flavor foods as well as some liqueurs, such as curacao. Most of the bitter orange supply comes from Spain.

Orange Facts

USDA grading of oranges is voluntary and not considered necessary by most growers. The two grades used are U.S. Fancy (best) and U.S. No. 1. Fresh oranges are available year-round at different times, depending on the variety.

Choose orange fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with no mold or spongy spots. Unfortunately, because oranges are sometimes dyed with food coloring, a bright color isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. Regreening sometimes occurs in fully ripe oranges, particularly with Valencias. A rough, brownish area (russeting) on the skin doesn’t affect flavor or quality either.

Orange benefits for your health

Oranges can be stored at cool room temperature for a day or so, but should then be refrigerated and can be kept there for up to 2 weeks.

Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain some vitamin A. Once cut or squeezed, however, the vitamin C quickly begins to dissipate. After only 8 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the refrigerator, there’s a 20 percent vitamin C loss. Canned, bottled and frozen-concentrate orange juices have a greatly decreased vitamin C content.

The color of an orange is no indication of its quality because oranges are usually dyed to improve their appearance. Brown spots on the skin indicate a good quality orange. Pick a sweet orange by examining the navel. Choose the ones with the biggest holes. If you put oranges in a hot oven before peeling them, no white fibers will be left on them.

Oranges that look green have undergone a natural process called regreening. This is due to a ripe orange pulling green chlorophyll pigment from the leaves. They are excellent eating and usually very sweet.

The orange is the chief food crop of the United States.

Orange juice is not necessarily high on the nutritional scale. While it may contain vitamin C and potassium, it provides little more than a source of carbohydrates in the form of a natural sugar.

Orange juice will lose more vitamin C content when stored in an open container or one with a plastic lid. Always store orange juice in a glass container with a screw cap.

Oranges that need to be peeled for dishes should be soaked in boiling water for at least five to seven minutes before peeling. This will make it easier to peel and remove all the white pulp.

Orange Health Benefits

Orange Spice Tea

There are plenty of orange spiced teas on the market, but it is a pleasure to personalize your own cup.

  • 1 orange
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half lengthwise
  • 1 star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 rounded teaspoons black tea leaves, such as English Breakfast

Home Made Orange Sherbet

You don’t need an ice-cream maker to make this yummy frozen dessert.

  • 1 cup of unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest (grated peel) of one orange
  • Stevia equal to 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of dry skim milk powder

With a small bowl that can go in your freezer safely, add everything and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap until it sets to ice-cream consistency.

To Serve as Dessert: Put a large scoop in a pretty glass and top with fresh berries, or a fresh mint leaf.

To Go: Spoon into a wide-mouth thermos bottle and top with fresh berries or peach slices.

Blood Oranges with Chocolate Sorbet

Peel and section two blood oranges. Scoop 1/2 cup chocolate sorbet into four dessert glasses and top each with 1/4 of the orange slices. Top with chopped hazelnuts, if desired.
Note: If Blood Oranges aren’t available, you can use “regular” oranges.

In Summary


  • One of the best sources of vitamin C.
  • Also contain a lot of folate and potassium.
  • Provide us with antioxidants and fiber.

Blood Orange

  • Blood oranges contain anthocyanins, the same flavonoid pigments that give blueberries their intense color and extraordinary health benefits.
  • Loaded with ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C.
  • Loaded with vitamin A, another vitamin that is vital to your body.
  • Good source of calcium.

Blood orange


Florida-Style Crepes Suzette Recipe

The following Florida-Style Crepes Suzette recipe (below) is designed as a dessert, but easily could make an elegant centerpiece for a summer Sunday brunch.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • Nonstick spray coating
  • Orange topper (see following recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans

In a medium bowl, combine flour, milk, thawed concentrate, egg product and oil. Beat with a rotary beater until mixed. Spray an unheated 6-inch skillet with nonstick coating. Heat over medium heat. Spoon 2-tablespoons batter into skillet; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter.Return to heat and brown on one side only. Invert over paper towels and remove crepe. Repeat with remaining batter to make 16 crepes, greasing skillet lightly as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold each crepe in half, browned-side out. Fold in half again, forming a triangle. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Keep crepes warm in a 300-degree oven while making orange topper. To serve, arrange two folded crepes on each dessert plate. Spoon orange Topper over crepes. Sprinkle with nuts.

For the Topper:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 medium oranges, peeled, sectioned and seeded

In a medium sauce pan, stir together sugar, thawed concentrate and cornstarch. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir two minutes more. Add orange sections. Makes about 2 cups topper.

Carmalized Mandarin Oranges

Dollop mandarin orange halves with 1 teaspoon butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Mix a splash of brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, then drizzle over mandarins. Roast until tender and carmalized. Serve with cream, if desired.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove two 3 inch strips of zest from the orange. Juice the orange and measure out 1/4 cup of the juice.

In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups water with the orange juice and zest, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Let the mixture come to a boil slowly over medium low heat. The spices will infuse the water. Meanwhile, fill a small teapot with hot tap water and let stand to heat the pot.

Discard the water in the teapot. Add the tea to the teapot. Pour in the contents of the saucepan, including the spices and zest. Cover and steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour through a tea strainer into two cups and serve hot.

Read More: Food Facts