13 Types of Oranges You Need To Know About
When you're craving a citrusy snack, the easiest thing you can reach for is a fresh orange. Whether you want a sweet, juicy bite or a tart taste that will make your lips pucker, there's an orange out there for everyone. And the best part about this vibrant family of fruit is, they all come in their very own portable packaging!
As you head into the produce aisle, you might not immediately notice all the different types of oranges that are available being that they all look like, well, oranges. Even though many oranges look the same, the differences surface in their taste, juiciness, size, and even the season when they're available.
So, before you add oranges to your next grocery list, make sure you know the different orange options that are available to you and what makes each one so special. To become an orange expert, here's everything you need to know about the popular citrus varieties.
How to Choose and Store Oranges
Oranges are available all year long in grocery stores, but the diversity of orange types you'll find often depends on what's in season. Citrus season starts in November and continues all the way until June. While most oranges are winter oranges, there is one type of orange that is in season during the summer months.
When choosing an orange, look for a fruit that is heavy for its size with no soft spots, discoloration, or bruising on the skin. For optimal freshness, store your oranges in the crisper drawer of the fridge where they will last for about a month. Oranges don't have a long shelf life if left on the counter, so, at room temperature, they will only stay fresh for about a week.
Navel oranges are the most common type of orange that consumers eat. They are recognizable by the small hole at the top of the fruit that resembles a navel.
These oranges are sweet and seedless, which makes them the perfect snacking orange to eat out of hand. Also, if you like fresh orange juice, you can use navel oranges to make fresh-squeezed juice, but because the juice is quite sweet it can ferment and go bad if not consumed quickly.
Navel oranges are in season from November to June, with their peak season in January and February.
Mandarin oranges are the smallest type of orange. They have a soft skin that's easy to peel and are virtually seedless — both of these factors mean mandarins are a popular snack. Mandarins are also the oranges you'll find in a can packed in syrup.
Mandarin oranges are in season from January to May, but there are certain varieties of mandarins that are in season at different times. The most common mandarins include clementines, Satsumas, tangerines, and tangelos; more on those below.
Related: Top-Rated Mandarin Orange Recipes
Clementines are one of the smallest types of oranges, which makes them a great snack — especially for kids. They're round, almost entirely seedless, and have a skin that is tight, but thin and easy to peel.
Clementines may also be called "Cuties," "Halos," or "Sweeties" because those are the top commercial brands that market these fruits. They're a hybrid cross between mandarin oranges and sweet oranges, so they have a very sweet flavor.
You may see clementines a lot around Christmastime, this is because they are in season from November to January, but also because they are a common edible gift or holiday centerpiece. Even though they are a winter fruit, their popularity has caused an increase in demand, so you may see clementines in the summer marketed as "Summer Cuties."
Satsuma mandarins are a hybrid cross between mandarin oranges and pomelos. They are known for their loose skin, nearly seedless flesh, and distinctly sweet flavor. Satsumas are in season from November through February.
Tangerines are small, brightly colored oranges. They have slightly looser peels than most oranges, which makes them easy to peel and eat out of hand. Tangerines are very sweet — as is their juice. Thus, some people prefer tangerine juice over traditional orange juice. Most tangerines have seeds in them, but you may be able to find seedless varieties as well.
Tangerines have quite a long season, running from November all the way through May, which makes them an easy orange to find.
Get the recipe: Tangerine Spritz
Tangelos are a hybrid cross between tangerines and pomelos. They're distinguished by their bell shape and "nipple" that pokes out of the top of the fruit. Tangelos are very sweet, from their tangerine roots, but they also offer a pomelo-like tartness to them.
The fruit is extremely juicy, which makes it a good choice for a glass of fresh-squeezed juice. Many people stick to just juicing tangelos anyway because their skin is very tight and can be difficult to peel, so they aren't typically a first-pick for a snacking orange.
Tangelos are in season from November through March, with their peak season occurring in January.
From the outside, a blood orange may look like any old orange, but as soon as you cut into one of these beauties you can see the difference. The blood orange has deep crimson-colored flesh and a complex flavor. It's similar in taste to a sweet navel orange, but with a hint of tart and floral flavor as well. The blood orange is in season from October through May, but at its peak in February and early March.
Get the recipe: Blood Orange Tart
Seville oranges, also called bitter oranges or sour oranges, are known for their tartness and bitterness — makes sense right? Because of this, their flesh is almost never eaten raw. Instead, Seville oranges, and more specifically their peels, are most often used to make marmalades and marinades. If you're looking for these oranges, you'll have to act fast because they're only in season from December to the beginning of February.
Valencia oranges are the most common orange used to make orange juice. They're oval-shaped and golden on the outside, with a balanced sweet-to-tart flavor ratio and juicy flesh on the inside.
Valencia oranges contain little to no limonin, which is a natural compound found in oranges that can cause the juice of the fruit to turn bitter when exposed to air. Because of this, the Valencia orange is used to make fresh-squeezed orange juice that will remain sweet even after being exposed to air.
Additionally, Valencia oranges are the only orange with a peak summer season. They are in season and available from March to September, but the best time to buy a Valencia orange is from April to June.
Jaffa oranges were once one of the most popular oranges but have since fallen by the wayside. You can still find the sweet and nearly seedless orange in the U.S., however, it's not as common as the navel orange or Valencia orange.
If you happen to find see some of these oranges, keep in mind that it's ideal to buy them between November and March when they're in their peak season.
Cara Cara Orange
Oftentimes called red-fleshed navel oranges, Cara Cara oranges are just that: A type of sweet navel orange with a pink or red-hued flesh. Cara Cara oranges can be easily confused with blood oranges because of their color, but Cara Cara oranges have a different flavor. These oranges have low acidity and are very sweet with a hint of tartness. The Cara Cara orange is in season from December to April.
Lima oranges, also called sweet oranges or acid-less oranges, are known for their low acidity and extremely sweet flavor. Because they have minimal acidity, these oranges have almost no tartness. However, the low acid levels also mean they have a shorter shelf life because the acid in citrus works as a preservative. Luckily, Lima oranges have a decently lengthy season — from late winter to early spring — so you can continue to stock up.
The bergamot orange's flesh is almost never consumed raw because of its bitter and sour flavor. Instead, it's the orange's rind that is the most sought-after part of the fruit. The yellow-green peel is a key ingredient in making Earl Grey tea, as well as other syrups, sugars, cocktails, and vinaigrettes. The bergamot orange is in season from November to January.