The taste and shape of the orange is familiar to people all over the globe. The orange or yellow-orange fruits are globular and covered with oil glands. The outer rind covers a white inner rind, which in turn covers the yellow, orange, or red flesh. Oranges generally have ten to fourteen segments that are fairly easy to separate, and which contain a few seeds, or in some cases are seedless. The taste of oranges varies from sweeter to more acidic, based on the species.
There are many varietes of oranges and they can be found year-round.
Oranges, part of the Rutacaea family, are not one of the original citrus species that occur in the wild. Instead, they are a hybrid of pomelos and mandarins. There are many varieties of oranges, which can be divided into types including sweet and bitter. Some of the more commercially-important varieties include Washington navel, Valencia, Satsuma, and Seville, although there are an estimated 600 varieties in total. Oranges are one of the most important fruits in global trade.
Oranges are low in calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol, but do contain many healthy nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and fiber. They are especially known for their high Vitamin C content—one medium orange contains over 100 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C.
Oranges are most often eaten fresh or consumed as juice. They can be cut up to use in salads and desserts, or as garnishes for meat and poultry. Orange peel is also edible, and is sometimes candied or zested as flavoring for a variety of dishes. The pectin found in this fruit make oranges a great candidate to add to fruit preserves, or to make into marmalade. In fact, the pectin found in stores comes from the inner layer of orange peels. Choose oranges that are firm and feel heavy; these fruits will have more juice. Store them for two weeks at room temperature or longer in the fridge.
The high Vitamin C content of oranges has historically made them a solution for sailors looking to prevent scurvy, a deficiency of this vitamin. Sailors would plant orange trees along their trade routes to pick and bring with them along the way, spreading oranges all over the globe.
While oranges do not grow in the wild, they have been grown in southern China, India, and Southeast Asia for thousands of years. They were brought to the Mediterranean by traders in the 1400s. Christopher Columbus is thought to have been brought to North America, along with other Spanish and French explorers. In the United States, oranges were growing in Florida by 1565 and in California by 1769. Today, oranges are grown commercially all over the world in subtropical areas, from South Africa, to Australia, to South America. Brazil is a particularly large producer, while Florida and California lead American production.