Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Oranges: Navel vs Valencia

"An orange a day keeps the doctor away?" Between apples and oranges, I would choose oranges anytime. For me, eating apple is hardwork because you have to bite and chew on it. It is no surprise then that most of the fruits I like, such as orange, banana, papaya, watermelon, and honey dew, do not require much chewing. In fact, if they are ripe enough, they can melt in your mouth.

There are essentially two varieties of oranges, even those marketed under the popular Sunkist brand: Navel and Valencia. I hope this posting will help to clarify the key difference between the two varieties.

Valencia, which is the dominant fruit of Florida, is extremely juicy, composed almost 50% juice, but the fruit’s flavor is relatively undistinguished. Over the years, Florida growers concentrated on producing juice from Valencias. Today almost 97% of Florida’s oranges wind up in juice, and chances are good that you have never eaten a Florida orange. Nevertheless, you can still buy Valencia oranges in the supermarket, but they are usually produced from other parts of the world, such as South Africa. But they are not that tasty as compared to navel oranges.

In contrast, navel, which is the dominant fruit in California, is recognized as one of the world’s best-tasting oranges. Besides their flavor, navel oranges have several attractive qualities that made them so popular: they are frequently seedless, they are relatively easy to peel, and they have flesh that is firm rather than watery. On the other hand, when juiced, Navels turn bitter within half an hour. Thus, if you intend to juice the oranges , then the Valencia variety would be a better choice.

photo: Navels are typified by a “bellybutton” that appears at the flower end of the mature fruit. .

Originated from a chance mutation in the Bahia region of Brazil in the early 19th century, the navel quickly spread around the world.

photo: a giant navel orange
Did you know?
Sweet oranges are believed to be a cross between pummelo and the mandarin. The first cultivation of the sweet orange was in China, where it thrived for several centuries before spice traders from the West brought it to Europe via Genoa in the early 1400s. Quickly adopted, the fruit became popular in the Mediterranean. The orange followed the missionaries to California and, most notably, Florida, where the Spanish planted extensive orchards.
Source: How to Pick a Peach

No comments: