If the cold winter weather has got you down, why not brighten up your day with some fresh, sweet oranges! Oranges, and citrus fruit in general, are in season right now and can be found taking over the produce department this time of year.
With all the varieties of oranges and tangerines available you may be left wondering what makes each type of orange or tangerine unique. To learn more, here is some useful information about oranges varieties:
A Guide to Orange and Tangerine Varieties:
Navel oranges are the most common variety of oranges. They are seedless, have thick skins, peel easily and are a classic orange size with a dimple on the non-stem end. Navel oranges are sweet and juicy however, their juice ferments easily, so use immediately.
Blood oranges, often called Moro, are famous for their deep red flesh. They have thin, reddish-orange skin and flesh that varies in color from pink to deep red. Blood oranges are less acidic than other orange varieties and taste sweet, almost berry-like in flavor, making them best for eating rather than juicing. Blood oranges are more uncommon and can usually only be found at specialty markets and stores.
Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel orange with red or pink fruit. They have exceptionally sweet flavor with cherry undertones and a tart cranberry-like zing. Cara Cara oranges make colorful and flavorful additions to beverages or salad dressings.
Clementines, often called “cuties,” are very small oranges and are similar to tangerines in their appearance. Due to their small size, thin and easy to peel skin, and sweet honey like flavor, clementines are perfect for snacking and lend themselves to both savory and sweet dishes.
Tangerines are smaller in size and have looser peels than oranges. They have bright orange skins and have a sweeter, brighter taste than traditional oranges; making them great for a quick breakfast or addition to salads.
Minneola Tangelos are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. They have a distinct bell like shape with a stem on one end. Tangelos are darker orange in color and have a juicy, mildly sweet flavor.
Honey Tangerines are speckled and pale orange in color. They are a cross between a tangerine and an orange. Honey Tangerines have a thicker skin than other tangerines and have an extremely high number of seeds. True to their name, Honey Tangerines have a very sweet, honey like taste. They are best eaten as a snack or used in desserts.
Neapolitan Tangerines are smaller than most other tangerines. The are very sweet, extremely juicy, easy to peel and seedless.
Mandarins are a variety of tangerines that contain seeds. While many people enjoy mandarins from a can, fresh mandarins have a wonderful mild, sweet flavor.
Kumquats are tiny and oval in shape and bright orange in color. They have a very distinctive taste. Since the juice tends to be sour and the skin is sweet, they are meant to be eaten whole, skin and all. They make great additions to salads and are often found in preserves.
After learning about all the varieties of oranges and tangerines available this winter, what are your favorites?
Disclosure: I wrote a similar article for the meal planning/recipe website, Food on the Table, in January 2012. This article was featured in various newspapers and online publications, including The News Guard and Central Kentucky News.