More than any other fruit, the orange is associated
with and valued for its vitamin C content. It is, in fact, the
primary source of vitamin C for the majority of Americans. But
oranges have more to offer nutritionally than just this one nutrient.
A small orange (about five ounces) contains generous levels of
folate (folic acid), potassium, and thiamin, as well as some calcium
and magnesium. And compared to other citrus fruits, oranges have
a broader range of uses: They can be added to various cooked or
cold dishes, eaten as snacks, or squeezed for their delicious
Americans consume most of their oranges in the
form of juice, which provides 140% of the current suggested daily
intake of vitamin C. However, if you choose to eat a whole orange
instead of drinking a glass of juice, you'll get about the same
amount of vitamin C with the added benefit of more than 3 grams
of dietary fiber.
Orange trees are semitropical non-deciduous trees
and, like other citrus fruits, they probably originated in Southeast
Asia. We take oranges for granted now (they are the third most
popular fruit in the U.S., right behind bananas and apples), but
at one time they were expensive and only rarely available in cooler
climates. Columbus brought orange seeds and seedlings with him
to the New World, and by the 1820s, when Florida became a U.S.
territory, there were thriving orange groves in St. Augustine.
By 1910, Florida was on its way to its current status as the number-one
In the Forties, scientists developed frozen orange-juice
concentrate which led to oranges becoming the main fruit crop
in the United States. Today, Florida produces about 70% of the
country's oranges, and about 90% of the crop is processed into
juice. California and Arizona are the other two states where oranges
are extensively cultivated. Their oranges, however, have thicker
skins than Florida fruits, a characteristic that helps to protect
them against the drier climates of the West. They are also more
prized as eating oranges.
Varieties : There are two types
of oranges, sweet and sour. Only sweet oranges are grown commercially
in the United States, and those you are most likely to find include:
Hamlin: One of the earliest
maturing oranges, Hamlins are grown primarily in Florida. Although
they are practically seedless, their flesh is rather pulpy so
they are better for juicing than for eating. Small in size, Hamlins
have a very thin skin. Season: October through December