Introduction and description
The orange is a fruit in the species Citrus in the family Rutaceae. The fruit of the Citrus × sinensis is considered a sweet orange, whereas the fruit of the Citrus × aurantium is considered a bitter orange.
Orange trees are the most cultivated fruit tree in the world and are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates. As of 2012, sweet oranges accounted for approximately 70% of citrus production. In 2013, 71.4 million metric tons of oranges were grown worldwide.
Brazil is the world's leading orange producer, with an output of 36 million tons (2013), similar in total to the next three countries combined (the United States, China and India). As almost 99% of the fruit is processed for export, 53% of total global frozen concentrated orange juice production comes from this area. Orange juice is traded internationally in the form of frozen, concentrated orange juice to reduce the volume used so that storage and transportation costs are lower.
With approximately 16 million tons produced in 2013, the United States is the second largest producer. Groves are located especially in Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona. The majority of California's crop is sold as fresh fruit, whereas Florida's oranges are destined to juice products.
For those who like oranges as they are. The pared rind and the central fruit can be eaten. Generally the pith is somewhat indigestible, but if you boil an orange with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda until soft, the whole orange can be eaten, chopped.
Description of the plant
The orange tree is a flowering tree. It can be grown in pots as a decorative feature, although the pots need to be pretty big! In this way its height and shape can be controlled. Left uncontrolled, trees can average a height of 9 to 10 m (30 to 33 ft).
It has waxy intensely green leaves. The oval leaves are wavy at the edges and 4–10 cm long. If you hold an orange leaf up to the light you can see many dots which are actually glands containing aromatic oils.
Orange flowers grow singly or in clusters of up to six, are white and very fragrant.
Although the sweet orange can be found in different sizes and shapes varying from spherical to oblong, it generally has a number of segments (carpels) inside, and contains a number of seeds or pips. A porous white tissue – called pith or, more properly, mesocarp or albedo—lines its rind. When unripe, the fruit is green. The grainy irregular rind of the ripe fruit can range from bright orange to yellow-orange.
Like most citrus plants, oranges do well under moderate temperatures—between 15.5 and 29 °C (59.9 and 84.2 °F)—and require considerable amounts of sunshine and water. Another significant element in the full development of the fruit is the temperature variation between summer and winter and, between day and night. The pigments in the skin of the fruit are sensitive to temperature, in areas where ambient temperature does not get cooler than a specific temperature (as in Hawai’i) fruits will appear to be green or blotchy. Oranges are sensitive to frost.
Orange peel is occasionally used by gardeners as a slug repellent.
The Citrus sinensis is subdivided into four classes with distinct characteristics:
- Common oranges - Common oranges (also called "white", "round", or "blond" oranges) constitute about two-thirds of all the orange production. The Valencia orange is a common orange.
- Acidless oranges - Acidless oranges are an early-season fruit with very low levels of acid. The lack of acid, which protects orange juice against spoilage in other groups, renders them generally unfit for processing as juice, so they are primarily used for local consumption, as they rapidly spoil once picked. They can be found in the United States and are called douce in France, sucrena in Spain, dolce or maltese in Italy, meski in North Africa and the Near East (where they are especially popular), şeker portakal ("sugar orange") in Turkey, succari in Egypt, and lima in Brazil.
But there are other types of orange that are not in the Citrus sinensis family, these include:
- Seville orange (Citrus aurantium), also known as the bitter or sour orange, bigarade orange or marmalade orange.
- Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia Risso), which is grown mainly in Italy for its peel, producing a primary essence for perfumes, and also used to flavour Earl Grey tea.
- Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is an original species of citrus, and is a progenitor of the common orange.
We have covered tangerines and mandarins in a separate section, but satsumas, for example, are covered here.
The word orange derives from the Sanskrit word for "orange tree" (नारङ्ग nāraṅga), which is probably of Dravidian origin. The Sanskrit word reached European languages through Persian نارنگ (nārang) and its Arabic derivative نارنج (nāranj).
The orange is unknown in the wild state; it is assumed to have originated in southern China, northeastern India, and perhaps southeastern Asia. They were first cultivated in China around 2500 BC. In Europe, citrus fruits were introduced to Italy by the crusaders in the 11th century and grown widely in the south for medicinal purposes. Sweet oranges were unknown until the late 15th century or the beginnings of the 16th century, when Italian and Portuguese merchants brought orange trees into the Mediterranean area. It became a luxury food and wealthy people grew oranges in private conservatories, called orangeries.
As Portuguese merchants introduced the sweet orange in Europe, in several modern Indo-European languages the fruit has been named after them. Some examples are Albanian portokall, Bulgarian портокал (portokal), Greek πορτοκάλι (portokali), Macedonian portokal, Persian پرتقال (porteghal), and Romanian portocală. Related names can be found in other languages, such as Arabic البرتقال (bourtouqal), Georgian ფორთოხალი (p'ort'oxali), Turkish portakal and Amharic birtukan. Also, in southern Italian dialects (e.g. Neapolitan), an orange is portogallo or purtuallo, literally "(the) Portuguese (one)", in contrast to standard Italian arancia.
In other Indo-European languages, the words for orange allude to the eastern origin of the fruit and can be translated literally as "apple from China". Some examples are Low German Apfelsine, Dutch appelsien and sinaasappel, Swedish apelsin, and Norwegian appelsin.
The orange [unprocessed] must be one of the most deceptively simple yet amazingly complex fruit there is. According to Dr Duke’s analysis [see observations], it has literally hundreds of natural chemicals and well over 830 medicinal healing activities. Just like lemons, it has Vitamin C in abundance and that alone makes it into a sort of superfood medicinally.
The white part of the rind, including the pith, is a source of pectin and has nearly the same amount of vitamin C as the flesh and other nutrients. The orange peel is edible and has significant contents of vitamin C, dietary fibre, total polyphenols, carotenoids, limonene and dietary minerals, such as potassium and magnesium.
The orange – eaten fresh - appears to be especially good for those with heart problems, if Dr Duke’s analysis is a guide, helping to thin the blood, and help with atherosclerosis; they are natural vasodilators. Oranges are also good chelators of heavy metals especially mercury, so if your amalgam fillings are leaking, an orange a day may be the answer. Oranges are also good anti-viral agents. The geraniol and thymol makes them anti-parasitic/anthelmintic, and 41 natural chemicals give oranges extensive anti-bacterial activity.
Dr Duke’s analysis provides a comprehensive analysis but briefly, using the USDA Nutrients database, the vitamins in oranges are as follows. The percentage shown is percentage of RDA
Vitamin A equiv.
Pantothenic acid (B5)
(64%) 53.2 mg
The mineral content is as shown:
(4%) 40 mg
(1%) 0.1 mg
(3%) 10 mg
(1%) 0.025 mg
(2%) 14 mg
(4%) 181 mg
(1%) 0.07 mg
These figures are likely to be very approximate, as the vitamin and mineral content of an ordinary orange grown in bulk on vast commercial farms, is likely to be different from those grown in small quantities on the rich fertile slopes of Mount Etna!
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a grading system for oranges, which primarily apply to oranges sold as fresh fruit. The general characteristics graded are principally based on appearance and thus its saleability in commercial supermarkets - colour (both hue and uniformity), firmness, varietal characteristics, texture, and shape. Fancy, the highest grade, requires the highest grade of colour and an absence of blemishes. Taste is not included. Nutrient content is not included.
The USDA uses a separate grading system for oranges used for juice because appearance and texture are irrelevant in this case. Juice grades are determined by only three factors:
- The juiciness of the orange
- The amount of solids in the juice (at least 10% solids are required for the AA grade)
- The proportion of anhydric citric acid in fruit solids
Taste is not included. Nutrient content is not included. This is probably why commercially produced orange juice has so much extra added to it.
Orange products are often adulterated and ruined by the processed food industry, who add things, subtract things and sell the end result as ‘orange juice’, when it is little more than sweetened water with a large number of artificial flavours and colours added. Let us be blunt, the orange juice in the USA can be positively foul tasting, and this in a country which is one of the largest producers of oranges.
In the United States, laws forbid harvesting immature fruit for human consumption in Texas, Arizona, California and Florida. Ripe oranges, however, often have some green or yellow-green colour in the skin and ethylene gas is used to turn green skin to orange. This process is known as "degreening", also called "gassing".
In the USA, commercially, oranges can be stored by refrigeration in ‘controlled-atmosphere’ chambers for up to 12 weeks after harvest.
Citrus greening disease, caused by the bacterium Liberobacter asiaticum, has been the most serious threat to commercial orange production, the disease was discovered in Florida in 1998, where it has attacked nearly all the trees ever since. It had spread to Brazil by 2004. In 2007, foliar applications of insecticides reduced psyllid populations for a short time, but also suppressed the populations of predatory ladybird beetles. Soil application of aldicarb and drenches of imidacloprid to young trees have also been used.
Oranges are far more versatile than many people realise. They can be used in salads, main dishes, desserts, ice creams and sorbets, biscuits and cakes. Here are some ideas:
Very simple to make this came from one of my old cookery books. The recipe indicates that the amount of olives you use and red peppers is up to you, as obviously it depends how big the jars are. This is a lovely summer lunch dish, it is meant to be just luke warm, the oranges must not cook.
4 chicken legs
2 egg yolks beaten
1 mild onion finely chopped
1 small jar stoned or stuffed green olives in olive oil
I wineglass chicken stock
1 wineglass white wine
1 jar red peppers without skins in olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat casserole dish add oil and butter
Fry chicken legs all over in hot oil/butter until lightly browned
Remove legs from pan with slotted spoon
Add onion to casserole, fry until tinged brown and soft
Add stock and wine. Bring back to boil
Add chicken legs and simmer on very low heat for about 20 mins until cooked through.
Meanwhile slice red peppers into strips.
Chop olives coarsely into chunks.
Slice oranges and remove skin and pith with serrated knife
Remove casserole from heat. Add egg yolks to casserole to thicken sauce, stirring vigorously
Add peppers, orange slices and olives.
Sprinkle over parsley, season to taste
Serve with crusty bread and green salad or green beans
Sheila Bush and Helge Rubinstein’s Ices galore Orange Ice cream
The addition of 2 tbsps of either Grand marnier or Orange curacao after the addition of the cream, adds extra flavour and interest for dinner parties and [depending on temperature of freezer] may enable you to serve this directly from the freezer.
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
Juice of 6 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
2/3 pint double cream
Beat egg yolks, whites and sugar until thick and fluffy
Add orange and lemon juice
Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat gently stirring until the mixture thicken
Cool, then fold in the lightly whipped cream. Freeze.
Remove from freezer 15 mins before serving and leave in refrigerator.
Chocolate pots with orange and cardamom [From The Kitchen Revolution: by Rosie Sykes, Zoe Heron and Polly Russell
This pudding is quick to make but takes a few hours to set.
8 cardamom pods
1 Take seeds out of cardamom pods. Crush the seeds a little with the back of a spoon or in a pestle and mortar. Put in a pan with the milk. Slowly bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
2 Break the chocolate into a bowl, place over a pan of boiling water. Leave the chocolate to melt.
3 Beat the egg yolks with beater until they turn thick.
4 When the chocolate has melted, stir in the yolks, orange zest and juice, and strain in the milk.
5 Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and fold them into the chocolate mixture using a large metal spoon.
6 Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks and, using the metal spoon again, fold it into the other ingredients.
7 Pour the chocolate into between six or eight small ramekins or pots Cover with saucers and refrigerate until set.
Fennel + Blood Orange Salad
There are many variations one can play with this salad. The pomegranate seeds can be replaced by mint leaves or as shown abve, black olives. The whole salad can be placed on a bed of small mixed salad greens. The olive oil can be mixed with lemon juice to obtain a more tangy dressing.
1 fennel bulb
Using a mandolin, slice the fennel into a bowl.
Pare the rind from the oranges and slice into very thin strips.
Slice the oranges with a serrated knife and remove pith
Arrange fennel, orange slices and peel shreds on a plate, drizzle over olive oil.
Add pomegranate seeds and chopped chives.
Then one can replace the fennel with sliced avocado, or the blood oranges with ordinary oranges……
Boil 2 oranges in a pan to which a pinch of bicarbonate of soda has been added – the skins should look slightly translucent and be soft. Remove the oranges with a slotted spoon and cool. When cool, chop into large chunks removing the pips as you do so.
In a separate pan boil 4 medium sized peeled quartered potatoes until cooked. Drain and mash with olive oil. Add the oranges to the potatoes and fold in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with liver and bacon, or venison sausages. It might be added that the same can be done with polenta and it is just as good.
Warm Chocolate fondues with a bitter marmelade filling
Nigel Slater’s Seville Orange marmalade
Marmalade making is about as pleasurable as cooking can get. It isn't something for those whose only reason for cooking is the finished product. If the process of peeling oranges, painstakingly cutting their skin into fine strands and constantly checking their progress on the stove is a chore, then don't do it. There is enough exceptionally good cottage industry marmalade out there. Go and buy it. Making marmalade is a kitchen job to wallow in, to breathe in every bittersweet spray of zest, enjoy the prickle of the fruit's oils on your skin and fill the house with the scent of orange nectar.
Each stage, and there are several, carries with it waves of extraordinary pleasure.
I say extraordinary because it is not every day you get the chance to fill the house with a lingering smell that starts as bright clean as orange blossom on a cold winter breeze and ends, a day later, with a house that smells as welcoming as warm honey.
The point of this golden jam is its bittersweet quality. It's a wake-up call in a jar. That is why we eat it first thing in the morning. The bitter oranges you need are available for a short season in January and February.
I made two batches this year. One with organic fruit, the other not. The flavour of the organic one shone most brilliantly and took less time to reach setting point. This is enough to fill about 5 or 6 normal jam jars
12 Seville oranges
1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar
Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit.
Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.
Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here. Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel. (This time, mine took 45 minutes with the organic oranges, just over an hour with the others.)
Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil. Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don't your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
Ladle into the sterilised pots and seal immediately.
References and further reading
also see Citrus fruits
Duck a l'orange [a little joke]
- Citrus fruits as an antidote to Colchicine 016802
- Citrus fruits, kaffir lime leaves, selenium and its anti-depressant effect 013090
- D-limonene rich volatile oil from blood oranges inhibits angiogenesis, metastasis and cell death in human colon cancer cells 016780
- D-Limonene: safety and clinical applications 020764
- Dietary Strategies for the Treatment of Cadmium and Lead Toxicity - 041 Table 3 016843
- Dr Duke's list of anti-viral activity for the orange 012397
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Citrus sinensis (L.) OSBECK (Rutaceae) -- Orange 020822
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals in Citrus sinensis - Orange 020821
- Dr Duke's list of cystine containing plants to boost the immune system 012486
- Dr Duke's list of mercury chelating plants 017825
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing ARGININE 017958
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing GLYCINE 017955
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing HISTIDINE 019061
- Dr Duke's list of Plants Containing HYDROXYPROLINE 017965
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing LUTEIN 018922
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing LYSINE 017957
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing NICKEL 021500
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing PHENYLALANINE 017936
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing PROLINE 017956
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SELENIUM 020550
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SULFUR 021408
- Dr Duke's list of plants for Superactivity Arteriosclerosis/Atherosclerosis 017744
- Dr Duke's list of plants having chemicals with vasodilatory activity 017836
- Dr Duke's list of plants having high concentrations of Estrogenic activity 017893
- Dr Duke's list of plants to help with Fibromyalgia 018231
- Dr Duke's list of plants with a diuretic activity 012389
- Dr Duke's list of plants with a large number of chemicals having antiviral activity 017909
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anti-aggregate activity 017520
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiacne Activity 018404
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antialcoholic Activity 018406
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiallergenic activity 018413
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiapneic activity 018343
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiarteriosclerotic activity 018345
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiasthmatic Activity 018412
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiasthmatic activity 018347
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (breast) activity 018453
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (cervix) activity 018454
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (forestomach) activity 018458
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (liver) activity 018461
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (lung) activity 018462
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (skin) activity 018466
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticephalagic activity 018363
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidepressant activity 018472
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidiabetic activity 018473
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiflu activity 019584
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antihypertensive activity 018444
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antihypotensive activity 018445
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antileukemic activity 019585
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antimelanomic activity 024204
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiosteoarthritic activity 018447
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiosteoporotic activity 018449
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antipneumonic Activity 018416
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antitinnitic activity 018434
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antitubercular activity 018399
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Candidicide Activity 021073
- Dr Duke's list of plants with hemopoietic effects - 2 All plants with activity 012485
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Metal chelating ability from FERULIC ACID - PART 1 018253
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Neuroprotective activity 019583
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Radioprotective activity 018062
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Superactivity Premenstrual Syndrome/PMS activity 019158
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Tranquilizer activity 018138
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Vulnerary activity 018927
- Dr Duke's Plants with Antiplatelet activity 017519
- Dr Dukes list of plants with high concentrations of Antiestrogenic activity 017913
- Dr Dukes list of plants with high concentrations of Estrogenic activity 017914
- Foods to combat macular degeneration 012364
- Mead - Hypocras 020940
- Monoterpenes released from fruit, plant, and vegetable systems 016951
- Prevention and therapy of cancer by dietary monoterpenes 017700
- Targeting excessive free radicals with peels and juices of citrus fruits: grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange 021231