Discovering our food: Oranges

Hello my dear readers,

Are you ready for another Monday?

From when I was a little girl, for me the fruit of December was the orange 🍊

Most of the time, the fruits that we used to have at home in winter time were the apples. But in December, I remember my parents used to receive as a Christmas gift from their work place, oranges or portocale how we call them in Romanian 🍊 and I simply grew up loving them πŸ˜‹

Since it begins to look a lot like Christmas these days, let’s discover this bright orange fruit rich in vitamin C.

Everything you need to know about oranges_Popsicle Society

The orange is a precious citrus fruit belonging to the Rutaceae family, attractive in color and fragrance, but the orange is even more precious due to the high content of vitamin C.

The sweet orange is not a wild fruit, it is a hybrid between pomelo, or known asΒ “Chinese grapefruit” which is pale green or yellow,Β and mandarin, andΒ it is the winter fruit that enriches our meals in the cold months.

Oranges origins_Popsicle Society

It seems that the home of sweet orange is China, from which it was imported into Europe. It is also true that some ancient Roman texts speak of oranges already in the first century; it was cultivated in Sicily and was called melarancia, which would lead to think that the fruit had reached Europe by land from Arab cultivation.

What is then the truth about the origin of the orange? Both theories could be correct. Probably the orange tree really came to Europe via the Silk Road, but then the cultivation only established itself in the hot Sicily, where it stopped.

There are a few legends around oranges. A beautiful legend also tells that the sweet orange plant that is found in Rome, in the cloister of the convent of Santa Sabina all’Aventino, would have been brought and planted by San Domenico in about 1220. The legend does not specify whether the saint had brought the plant from Portugal or Sicily, where it had come after the Arab-Berber conquest.

Shortly after, the sweet orange quickly was adopted as an edible fruit and it was considered a luxury fruit and wealthy people grew oranges in private conservatories. Even at Versailles, potted orange trees in solid silver tubs were placed throughout the rooms of the palace, allowing year-round cultivation of the fruit.

Spanish and French explorers introduced the sweet orange also into the American continent.

Oranges ambient and needsPopsicle Society

Sweet orange is the most cultivated citrus in the world, thanks to its ability to adapt to different environmental conditions, favored by the large number of cultivars and clones.

The orange trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates, with Brazil producing 24% of the world total, followed by China, India and the United States.

The orange tree is an evergreen, flowering tree, with an average height of 9 to 10Β m (30 to 33Β ft), although some very old specimens can reach 15Β m (49Β ft). Like most citrus plants, oranges do well under moderate temperatures between 15.5 and 29Β Β°C (59.9 and 84.2Β Β°F) and require considerable amounts of sunshine and water, doesn’t like the temperature variation between day and night or summer and winter, and are very sensitive to frost.

It is possible to grow orange trees directly from seeds. I remember I always planted the seeds that I used to find in the oranges when I was little, and to my surprise they always used to germinate, but I never managed to actually grow an orange tree.

Did you know?

There are overΒ 600 varieties of oranges worldwide, from which the most known are Valencia, Navel and blood oranges and about 85% of all oranges produced are used for juice.

Red Blood oranges_Popsicle Society

Tarocco, which is my favourite, is a variety of blood oranges, characterised by its dark red colour, developed and cultivated in Sicily.

Oranges recipes_Popsicle Society

OrangesΒ are commonly peeled and eaten fresh or squeezed for juice but areΒ also used in certain recipes as a food flavoring or garnish.

Marmalade is also made using the entire orange fruit and is my favourite because is less sweet.

The peel of the orange we grate it thinly and use it and know it as orange zest so much used in sweets but also savoury dishes.

Sweet, juicy oranges make a delicious and healthy snack or addition to our meal.

You can keep the oranges at home for about one month,Β optimally stored loosely in an open or perforated plastic bag.

Benefits orangesPopsicle Society

Rich in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, aΒ whole orange contains only about 60 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium and provides us with all the daily requirement of vitamin C.

Oranges have many health benefits: may boost your immune system to everyday viruses and infections such as the common cold, give you better skin, and even help improve your health heart and cholesterol levels. Beside this, some evidence suggests that eating oranges may help reduce the risk of respiratory diseases, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and kidney stones.

Some research even suggests that the vitamin C in oranges may be linked with a lower risk of colon cancer.

The fiber in oranges may help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes and improve blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, so much so that theΒ oranges, along with other citrus fruits, are considered as a “superfood” for people with diabetes.

Although not as juicy or tasty as the flesh, orange peel is edible and has significant contents of vitamin C, dietary fiber, total polyphenols, carotenoids, limonene and dietary minerals, such as potassium and magnesium.

Oranges benefits_Popsicle Society

Orange juice is also packed with nutrients but doesn’t contain the fiber found in the orange pith, the white substance between the peel and the flesh and it may contain too many calories than when simply eating an orange.

Oranges have a lot of benefits but as with all our foods, is always better to not exaggerate with its consumption. If eaten in excess, the greater fiber content can affect digestion, causing abdominal cramps, and could also lead to diarrhea or because they are a high-acid food, can contribute to heartburn, especially for those who already suffering from heartburn regularly.

Do you like oranges? Do you eat them fresh or just drink the orange juice?

One of the things that is never missing from my breakfast is the orange juice and pretty often I also simply peel and eat it as it is πŸ˜‰

Fresh orange juice_Popsicle Society

This it will be my last post from Discovering our food series for this year. Thank you all for reading and for your support.

As you probably have noticed, every month I have tried to cover seasonal aromatic herbs, vegetables and fruits.

I would love to know what do you think of these kind of posts?Β 

Do you like them?

Do you find them boring or do you find them informative? Are they too short or too long?Β 

Do you think is useful to know more about our food?

What would you like me to cover more about our amazing food?Β 

Let me know in the comments below and I would be more than happy to start my research.

In the meantime, join me next time and let’s discover SΓ£o Paulo, the biggest orange producer region in Brazil.

And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may check my previous posts.

Bye bye for now! Have a great week!

Photo credit: Canva & Pixabay edited by Popsicle Society

52 thoughts

  1. I love tomlook at oranges and used to love to eat them. Not so much now though. But I love thevfeel and smell of them. I never knew there were so many varieties. Wow!

    1. Thank you very much Lorraine! Yes, I was impressed to know there are so many varieties πŸ˜‰ I love the smell of them too πŸ˜‰
      Wish you a wonderful day! πŸŒΈπŸ€—

  2. 600 varieties, cool!!
    I always save the peels and let them dry completely. Later powder them and use this powder whole year as a wonderful face mask mixed with milk cream or water.

  3. Orange! I love it, Just for it’s citrus effects on my body and the Vitamin C. What did you just say ‘Rutaceae” How do you even prounounce that. πŸ˜‰ Nice family name. It’s always been on my diet. Right now off my list as i have cold now. Later would start again. It’s medicinal benefits are amazing, as i know most of these benefits already. I often reads benefits of fruits and Orange i did multiple times πŸ™‚ Your research on this highly appreciated. You have covered everything about it. Have a great day Ribana! πŸ™‚

    1. Well Simon, you should put them back on your list because is full of vitamin C and is very helpful for cold πŸ˜‰
      Thank you for stopping by and for your support! Have a lovey day! πŸ€—

      1. ReallyπŸ€” Last time my cold got worse after having an orangeπŸ™„ wonder why its happening to meπŸ˜’. Must add it and check out this week.😸

  4. When I was a child growing up in post-war England I would always eat the peel of an orange because I never knew when I would get another one. I still do, sometimes. Just had one for breakfast actually.

    1. Actually I had the same feeling as I only saw them during Christmas time 😊🍊
      Just finished one too 🍊😊
      So delicious and full of juice πŸ˜‰
      Thank you Derrick!

  5. Cracking post, admittedly l tend to blitz all my citrus fruit peels and add them to the compost.

    Sadly l can’t eat as many oranages as l used to due to the acidity levels injuring my digestive system, but l still enjoy the occasional orange once a week πŸ™‚

    Nicely written and informative post Ribana πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you dear Beckie! Oh yes, when I was back home, mandarin and oranges were always our daily fruits all winter long. Now, even if I’m living in a summer country I still enjoy them almost every day πŸ˜‰πŸŠ
      Wish you a lovely day! πŸ€—πŸŒΈ

  6. Oranges are awesome. I love orange oil as a cleaning additive in my home made cleaning products. I have been taught to how to pick the best sweetest naval oranges and it makes sense now I know how. You pick the one with the largest naval. I always think back to my childhood I played Hockey and we always had oranges for half-time break. I loved them. Like so many fruit now we seem to have access to them all year. I know we get oranges imported from the US during our summer.

    As you are reminiscing about Oranges, I am looking forward to cherries, raspberries, peaches apricots and other summer fruit.

    1. Great to know what to look for when picking them πŸ˜‰πŸŠ Thank you for sharing and for stopping by!
      Oh yes, soon will be time for spring and summer fruits πŸ˜‰

  7. Great article! It is really amazing that there are 600 varieties of oranges and I would love to see those blood ranges that are not available here.

    1. Thank you Megala for your kind words! Yes, 600 is a pretty amazing number πŸ˜‰πŸŠ
      I love the blood oranges, I feel like are also more tasty and full of juice πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‹

    1. Clementines is a different variety of citrus fruit being smaller, with thinner skin, more easy to peel and sometime even sweeter πŸ˜‰
      Are really delicious and I like them a lot πŸ˜‰
      Very common fruit on Christmas time πŸ˜‰

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