Oranges, one of the world’s most popular fruit, generally have a round shape with shiny vivid skin and juicy flesh. As an ingredient for your meals and drinks, they could not be more versatile. Oranges also have lots of healthy nutrition that can benefit your body. Some of them you may already know is a source of vitamin C, thiamine, folate, fiber, and antioxidants.
The three groups of orange varieties
Oranges have three main variety groups that include sweet, bitter, and loose-skinned (mandarin) oranges. Under these categories, there are many varieties of oranges that have distinctive features. In this article, we are going to talk about some of the popular types of oranges.
1. Sweet orange varieties
Sweet oranges have varieties that are available year-round at different times. Navel oranges are available from November to May, peaking in January, February, and March. Valencia oranges are available from February to October, peaking in May, June, and July.
- Blood orange
Blood orange has reddish-orange skin and orange flesh, with red streaks or deep red color. It is slightly smaller than the other sweet oranges. Blood orange has a sweeter taste, giving a bold citrus flavor, less acidic, and usually seedless.
You can incorporate this sweet orange into any meal and drink, but the best possible use is when color plays an important role. The blood orange color looks vibrant and refreshing to the eyes. Blood orange is also known as pigmented oranges, Moro oranges, or Sanguinella.
- Navel orange
This sweet and juicy-fleshed orange has a thicker skin yet easy to peel. Navel orange makes a good fruit for snacking, salads, and juice. Two common varieties of this orange are the Navel and Cara Cara navel (pinkish red-fleshed navel). Navel oranges are easy to identify because of the growth of a second fruit at the apex, which protrudes slightly, resembles a human navel, and carries a small embryonic fruit.
- Valencia orange
This small to medium-sized orange has thin skin, which is quite hard to peel. Once peeled, it reveals a juicy and sweet flesh. The Valencia orange contains a lot of juice, and it is easy to squeeze because of the thin skin. You can also consume this orange for easy snacking since it has few or no seeds. In the US, Valencia orange is highly grown in Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona, and it is in season for most of the year.
2. Bitter orange varieties
Bitter oranges are not available throughout the year. They are commonly available in late winter and early spring.
Bergamot is a small, bitter, slightly pear-shaped, and acidic fruit. It contains a lot of seeds and juice. The most common bergamot orange has relatively smooth, thin skin with various colors from green to yellow, depending on its ripeness. Bergamots provide a strong scent for perfumes, cosmetics, and a flavoring for liqueurs. Bergamots are highly grown in Italy.
This bitter orange appears with rough and thick skin. The flesh contains a lot of seeds. Because of its strong flavor, Seville orange is an excellent ingredient for cooking. You can use Seville orange to make marmalades, jams, jellies, marinades, and flavoring liqueurs. Highly grown in the Mediterranean regions, Seville orange has a short growing season and is not always available. This variety is also known as Bigarade orange.
3. Loose-skinned orange varieties
When it comes to the mandarin orange, you will remember a large and diverse group of citrus varieties and hybrids, varying from sweet to more acidic flavor and from small to medium size. Mandarin oranges commonly have easily peeled skin from their flesh, and their parts are easily separated.
Mandarins range in color from bright orange to reddish-orange. Those with the deepest reddish-orange peels are usually called tangerines.
Some varieties of mandarin oranges are available from November through April or from early winter into summer, with the harvest split into early, midseason, and late. Canned mandarin oranges are on the market throughout the year.
Here is the list of the most well-known mandarin orange varieties and their hybrids.
- Honey mandarin
This variety of mandarin orange has a rich sweet flavor and thin skin with a smooth, shiny texture. Honey mandarin has a slightly flattened shape with no neck and easy to peel. It is very fragrant, juicy, and contains many seeds. Honey mandarin is available from mid-January through April.
Ortanique has bumpy skin that is tight-fitting compared to other mandarins, making them harder to peel. It is juicy and rich in sweet flavor. Their round shape is a bit flattened. Ortanique is quite hard to find since they are mainly grown in Jamaica. This orange is available from February through April.
Satsuma orange or Citrus unshiu is easy to peel, semi-seedless, and flattened in shape. Satsuma has slightly rough-textured skin that is loose and has a mildly sweet flavor. It is available from mid-October through December.
Tangelo is a hybrid of a mandarin orange or tangerine and a grapefruit or pomelo. Larger in size than tangerines, a tangelo is oval-shaped and has bright deep orange skin and inner flesh. But some tangelos have a yellow-green color like the Jamaican tangelo. The flavor, shape, and seed content of tangelos vary by the different varieties. Some of the most popular tangelo varieties are minneola tangelo, Orlando tangelo, and ugli fruit, also known as the Jamaican tangelo.
Tangerines and mandarins are often mistakenly referred to as the same varieties, but tangerine oranges are a subgroup of the mandarins. The tangerine is a hybrid of a mandarin and bitter orange. Their skins are commonly deep orange, slightly textured, loose-skinned, and easy to peel. The 8 to 15 segments of the tangerines are easily separated. Most tangerines are smaller in size than other oranges and have a somewhat flattened shape.
There are many different varieties of tangerines. Their size, shape, color, and flavor vary based on the different types. Some of the most popular tangerine varieties are Clementine, Dancy, Fairchild, Fallglo, Honey, and Sunburst tangerine.
This variety is a hybrid of the mandarin orange and the sweet orange. Also called the royal mandarin or temple orange, its bright orange pulp is sour-sweet, and its thick rind is easy to peel. Tangor is available from January through March.