Choosing the Finest Organic Oranges

During the months of November through February citrus fruit takes center stage in most produce departments, and standing tall at center stage are the orange varieties. Whether it's eating out of hand or juicing, oranges are easily the most popular of the wintertime fruits. To assist in your shopping experience of these delicious fruits, we want to share with you some helpful tips and strategies for selecting, handling, storing and eating these popular citrus treats.

Fresh oranges are available year round, although during the winter months it is typically the navel and blood orange varieties that are most common. From February through May it is the Valencia orange which becomes the orange of choice.

When selecting Navels, unlike the Valencia, the fruit must have an orange color all the way around without any greening whatsoever. It's important that the fruit is nice and orange. Once the color meets to your satisfaction, then it's time to take a look at the actual navel part of the orange located opposite the stem end of the fruit. The navel should be small in size. If it is large there is a tendency for the orange to have a thick rind with less juice than the oranges with smaller navels. Choose oranges that are strong in weight. Look for fruit that is heavy as this indicates more juice and therefore a sweeter tasting orange.

Blood oranges are available from December through May. They are typically smaller than the navel or Valencia varieties and have a very thin skin with few or no seeds. Upon opening this orange you will see a dramatic and beautiful bright red to deep maroon interior color. Take a bite of this fruit and you will most likely become an immediate fan of the intense orange taste that hints of fresh raspberry. All oranges contain carotene - that's what makes them orange. Blood oranges get their red color from high concentrations of a pigment called anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the effects of free radicals which are the agents believed to be responsible for cancer, aging and other health ailments.

Valencia oranges are often considered a warmer season navel orange, even though they may have a few seeds. They do not have a navel and their skin is often a little thinner than the skin of the navel orange. Even though this fruit is deliciously sweet and completely ripe, Valencia oranges may occasionally "regreen" in warm weather. When the fruit ripens on the tree, it turns a bright orange color, as usual. But the warm temperatures of the season may make the skin reabsorb chlorophyll as it hangs on the tree causing a ripe orange to look partly green. Don't let this color shift fool you into thinking the orange is not ready to eat - it is perfectly ripe. Often times the "regreened" oranges are actually a bit sweeter as the warmer temperatures elevate the fruit sugar content in the orange making for a sweeter tasting fruit.

Enjoy this season’s excellent selection of organic citrus.