Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Oranges & other Citrus from
the Barren County Farmers' Market

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Oranges are the most important citrus crop in the world. They are so abundant, we usually take them for granted. Americans think nothing of grabbing a glass of orange juice. Oranges, like other citrus, thrive in semitropical regions such as Florida and subtropical regions such as California and the Mediterranean. Oranges also grow in tropical areas, mainly parts of South and Central America as well as some areas of Southeast Asia.

The hot weather in tropical areas matures the fruit more quickly than subtropical areas. Also, citrus fruit from tropical areas will often still have a green rind because it takes cool nights for the bright color to set. Most of Florida's oranges are turned into juice because its warmer, humid climate can leave their rind with a green tinge. Although their juice is sweeter than those grown in California's cooler evenings and lower humidity, California's climate produces a more attractive looking fruit but they have higher acid levels.

As Valencias oranges ripen on the tree, they will first turn a yellow-orange color and then regain a little green tinge near the stem end of the fruit, resulting from chlorophyll returning to the peel. This "regreening" of the orange is not a sign of immaturity or considered a blemish on the skin. Florida and Texas growers will sometimes use a dye to enhance the appearance of their fruit in the marketplace. All fruit treated with dye will be stamped "color added" to notify people with food allergies that dye has been added to the fruit.

There are three main types of oranges: the sweet oranges; the loose-skinned mandarins; and the bitter oranges. Oranges are a good source of vitamins, such as vitamin C and four B vitamins, high in dietary fiber, and are also a good source of many important minerals.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Most oranges make a great snack that is eaten fresh. The flesh is generally sweet and juicy. The juice, flesh and zest can all be used. The mandarin types are loose-skinned, are much easier to peel than other oranges and can also be eaten out-of-hand. They are used in salads and desserts and can usually be substituted for oranges in most recipes. As with sweet oranges, the juice, flesh and zest of the mandarins can be used. The flesh and juice from the bitter orange are sour and are not usually eaten raw. They are used to make jams, jellies and marmalades. The oil from their skin is very aromatic, flavored liqueurs are made from it.

There are varieties of sweet oranges that are available at different times throughout the year so usually, there are sweet oranges available all year round. Navels are available November to May, peaking in January, February and March. Valencia oranges are available February to October, peaking in May, June and July. Mandarin oranges are available from November through April. Canned mandarin oranges are available throughout the year. Bitter oranges are not readily available throughout the year. They are generally available late winter and early spring.

Selecting a quality product

Select an orange that is firm and heavy for its size, which indicates that it contains more juice. Avoid any fruit that has damaged, shriveled, or moldy spots on the skin. Mandarins will feel soft and puffy compared to other oranges because of their loose skin. Their deep orange skin will be slightly glossy and should not be damaged, shriveled, or have moldy spots. Select fruit that is heavy for its size.

Tips on Storage

Oranges can be stored at room temperature for up to 7 days, they will be juicier than if stored in the refrigerator. To keep oranges for a longer period of time, store them unwrapped in the refrigerator.Be sure they are stored in something that allows them to get air. They may rot or mold without proper air circulation. Tangerines and other mandarins do not store as well as oranges. They can be refrigerated for 5 to 7 days.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Tips on Preparation

All citrus fruits should be thoroughly washed before being eaten out of hand.

Zesting Oranges - Orange zest is the orange colored outer peel of the orange, which provides a deep citrus flavor that is used to flavor many foods and beverages. The pithy white part under the outer orange is bitter so care must be taken to only take the oranges part when zesting. The zest can be removed in thin or thick strips or grated off. Orange zest can often be substituted in many recipes calling for lemon zest and will give its own individual flavor.

Freezing Oranges - Freezing Orange Juice: Juice the oranges and remove any seeds by pouring through a strainer. Pour the juice in an airtight and leak proof container, leaving 1/2 to 1 inch space on top to allow room for the juice to expand when it freezes. Orange juice can be stored for up to a year in the freezer. Freeze orange zest in a ziptop freezer bag, sealing it tightly - store up to a year. You can also freeze whole oranges, cut pieces or sections. Do not freeze older oranges, freeze as you would the juice or zest. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Tangerine zest is almost as useful and prized as the flesh. It can be used in place of lemon zest to add a zing with less acid than lemon and a tangerine flavor for a sweeter taste. Tangerine skin does not have the thick white pithy layer between the skin and flesh. Thus, the entire skin can be used rather than cutting away the colored part and avoiding the pith, as is necessary with other citrus fruits. The skin, while tangy, is sweet and flavorful and tastes much like the tangerine flesh. It is good fresh, dried and frozen.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Miscellaneous Orange Information

The mandarin is a large and varied family that differs from an orange with a smaller fruit that can be slightly flat on each end, and a loose or puffy skin that is easily separated from the pulp. Segments are easily separated and the juice has less acid than a normal orange, which makes them an ideal snack for children, or for adults on the go. Mandarin oranges come primarily from Spain and to a lesser extent from Mexico and Morocco. Mandarins are widely grown in China and the United States.

Tangelos are a hybrid between a large citrus fruit that is related to the grapefruit called a pomelo and a Dancy tangerine, hence the name tangelo. They look like large oranges, but have a tart/sweet flavor all their own that is closer to a tangerine then a grapefruit.

Some tangerines are called "Zipper Skins" because their skins seems to zip right off.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Blood oranges are juicy, sweet and have a dark red interior and are slightly less acidic than regular table oranges, they are considered a sweet orange. Originally from Sicily the blood orange has gained in popularity in the US and can be found fresh or in juice form in many grocery stores. Blood oranges contain a pigment called anthocyanin which is not typically found in citrus but rather more common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented but depending on the variety the outside may also have dark washes of red. You can substitute regular variety oranges for any recipe that calls for blood oranges but you will not get rich dark color.

The Navel - or Belly Button - orange, makes a good fruit for juice or for snacking and fruit salads. There are two common varieties of this orange, the Navel and the Red Navel. The Naval has an orange colored flesh while the Red Navel has a ruby flesh that is due to the presence of lycopene. Navel oranges are easy to recognize because of the growth that resembles a human navel on the end opposite the stem end. Navels are seedless.

Back in 1841, a man called William Wilfskill, planted the first orange tree in Los Angeles. Although he was almost laughed out of town for even thinking of selling oranges, he kept pushing on. He sold oranges to gold rush prospectors and with the completion of the transcontinental railroad, shipped them to St. Louis in 1877. Thus we have the California citrus business.


Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

The top-five lemon producing countries are the United States, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and India. Lemons are more partial to the subtropical in part because they are quite susceptible to disease if grown in wet climates. California, with 30 percent of the world market, produces almost all the lemons consumed domestically. Arizona is a distant second.

Lemons are rarely eaten raw but they have a number of wide uses from icy lemonade to making yout home smell citrusy clean. If you were to eat a raw lemon you might find yourself puckering up as they are very sour. They contain a high content of vitamin C and ascorbic acid which are sour. But this is an advantage when you want to help preserve the color of another fruit such as an apple which, when exposed to air, will start turning brown. The acid in the lemons will stop this from happening if you dip the fruit in lemon juice.

Adding lemon juice to greasy foods will help digestion and can be used as a vinegar substitute in dressings etc. It can help tenderize meat and takes away some of the fishy taste in seafood. But the best thing about lemons is their flavor which is added to many things every day through their juice or zest.

And that's not all, lemons also are a natural health and beauty aid. They are used to fight infections and provide soothing relief for coughs, sore throats, and flu symptoms. Lemons and limes were used back in the 18th century on British Navy ships to prevent and treat scurvy among the sailors. Lemons can be used in home beauty treatments for the skin and is found in many beauty products on the market.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Lemon juice is also used as a cleaning agent. It acts as natural bleach for stains on fabrics and is used as a hand cleaner to remove odors from the skin. Many people keep half a lemon near their sink while preparing foods. If you have a garbage disposal, you can also sweeten it by grinding that lemon up when you are done with it.

Selecting a quality product

Select lemons that are bright yellow in color and have a shiny skin. You want those that are as thin-skinned as possible and heavy for their size, which usually means they are full of juice. Larger lemons usually have thicker skins so buy smaller ones. Avoid green tinged areas, which is a sign that the lemons are not fully ripe and will be more acidic and avoid dull pale colored lemons and those with blemishes, soft or hard spots and shriveled skin, which are all signs of over mature fruit. Over mature lemons lose their acidity and begin to dry, producing less juice.

Meyer lemons are large, thin-skinned lemons that are seldom sold commercially, but the trees are popular for landscaping. So, if a neighbor offers some off a backyard tree, take them. They have abundant juice. They are sweeter than supermarket lemons, so they make excellent lemonade. Use the juice also in marinades, sauces and cakes and frostings.

Tips on Storage

Lemons will keep on the counter at room temperature for a maximum of two weeks if kept out of direct sunlight, depending on the temperature and humidity, and will keep in the refrigerator in plastic bags for up to six weeks. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a much better alternative than bottled lemon juice and can be stored for up to 5 days in the refigerator.

Tips on Preparation

Wash all citrus before use.

Freezing Lemon Juice - To freeze the juice, squeeze and freeze it in ice trays and transfer cubes to plastic bags for long-term storage. You can take out how many you need at a time.

Zesting Lemons - If you want to zest a lemon, the zest can be removed in thin or thick strips or grated off. As with oranges, you do not want the pithy white part under the skin, it is bitter.

Juicing Lemons - the lemon should be at least at room temperature but you can pop it into the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds after first poking holes in it with a fork. Roll the lomon on a hard surface till you feel the skin becoming soft. Cut them in half crosswise. Place one half of the lemon on a juicer, apply pressure and twist the lemon to remove the juice. The juice can also be removed by squeezing the lemon by hand. Remove all the seeds from the juicer once you have finished. Unless pulp-free juice is required, you can add the pulp to the juice once the seeds are removed. Otherwise, strain the pulp out.

Other Tips

  • To prevent the loss of vitamin C, add lemon juice toward the end of cooking.

  • To prevent lemon wedges from squirting juice in unwanted areas - someone's eye for instance - pierce the flesh of the lemon wedge with a fork before squeezing.

  • Freeze lemons for 24 hours and then thaw in the refrigerator before juicing - it makes lemon juice easier to extract.

  • People on salt free diets can cut down on the amount of salt used on food by adding lemon instead to enhance the flavor.

  • If you don't have a juicer, hold the cut side of half a lemon against your palm as you squeeze the juice out of it. This makes it hard for the seeds to escape.

  • If only a few drops of lemon juice are needed, poke a toothpick through the skin of a lemon and squeeze out the small amount needed. Insert the toothpick back in the hole like a cork and place the lemon in a plastic sealable bag. Refrigerate to use again later.

  • You can make fluffier rice, by adding lemon juice to the cooking water.

  • To remove stains from whites, mix 1 part lemon juice to 1 part cream of tartar and apply the paste to the stained area. Let it stand for a few minutes and then remove with a wet sponge.

  • For rust on washable clothing, apply salt and lemon juice to the rust stain and then place it outside in direct sunlight. Leave it until the stain disappears, keeping it moist with lemon juice during this time. When the stain has disappeared, brush the salt from the clothing and wash as normal.

  • To use as a cough suppressant, mix 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts honey. Do not give to children under the age of 1 year as honey is not good for them.

  • To create highlights in your hair, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to 3/4 cup of water, apply to hair, and then sit in the sun.

For more on Citrus, Click Here

Back to Previous Page