Oranges are citrus fruits that are low calorie and have nutritious value. This fruit is a hybrid of mandarin and pomelo, creating the right blend of sweetness and bitterness on anyone’s palette. This plant is highly cultivated in regions across Northeast India, Myanmar, and Southern China. Areas across the tropical and subtropical regions produce the right temperature in growing this tasty, sweet fruit.
As time goes by, this citrus fruit now has variants that can be used on different cooking needs. Other oranges are used for making juices, marinade, marmalade, and even candies. Each variety has its flavor profile, scent, and appearance. The flavors can be arranged from bitter to sweet—which brings to the question of which orange variant is the most precious of them all?
What Is the Best Tasting Orange?
This bright, sweet, and refreshing fruit possesses different qualities depending on the cultivar. Oranges are often in season from November until June. Oranges and tangerines come in different varieties despite being from the same species. This citrus fruit can be classified into three types: mandarins, bitter oranges, and sweet oranges.
- Mandarin oranges originate from Southeastern China and along with the other parts of Asia since the tenth century. It can now be cultivated in areas like Japan, Italy, Spain, and the United States.
- Bitter oranges originate from India, and it is now cultivating in Europe. This variant is commonly used in making marmalade or used in cocktail making.
- Sweet oranges are a common variant in the market. It is commonly used in fresh juices, preserves, and candies. Due to its flavor profile, sweet oranges can be eaten fresh, too.
The best-tasting variants of oranges are sweet oranges. The right blend of sugar and acid creates the much-needed orange tones. The two most known types of sweet oranges are the Navel oranges and Valencia oranges. Both of these oranges have the right sweetness and tartness, almost identical to some.
Sweet oranges are a good source of vitamins A and C and are infused with antioxidants that can fight against infection and common colds.
Which Is Sweeter Navel or Valencia Oranges?
While navel oranges and Valencia oranges both occupy the higher rungs of oranges for popularity, what’s the lowdown on their sweetness? People buy oranges mainly to enjoy their natural sweetness, and if you make a lot of fresh juice at home, of course, you’d be interested in buying oranges that provide the highest level of sweetness per batch of fresh juice.
According to fruit experts, navel oranges and Valencia oranges are equal in sweetness and juiciness. Neither of the two has attributes that outdo the other.
However, Valencia oranges have that added element of tanginess, which is essential when making some recipes. It’s easy to remember: when you need tanginess, go for Valencia oranges more than navel oranges. If you need less acidity and tanginess and a total boost of sweetness, your best pick would always be navel oranges, especially if the navel oranges have been picked late in the season.
Therefore, if you are missing navel oranges, you can head over to the aisle where Valencia oranges are found, and you can get the same flavors and textures. As for the volume of the fresh juice, they’re equal too, so you don’t have to buy any extra oranges. The usual quantity that you buy for your fresh orange juice at home should be the same whether you buy Valencia oranges or navel oranges.
Now, let’s say that you are settled on the sweetness of the oranges, but you want something more – you want to know how to use the oranges properly. Indeed, there will be subtle differences when you use oranges in cooking. Yes, there are some differences.
If you want to make a good summer salad, we recommend using segments of navel oranges. Since this orange type is sweeter, children will also like them better, and if you need to give your kids a quick snack, then choose navel oranges, too.
What about making juices? For juices, it is not a close toss-up between navel oranges and Valencia oranges. Based on the properties of these two cultivars, the safest pick for making fresh orange juice will always be Valencia oranges.
Here’s why: navel oranges are notorious for having high amounts of limonin, a type of antioxidant that occurs naturally in the pith of the orange. Since the limonin in navel oranges are more plentiful, freshly-squeezed orange juice from navel oranges tends to go bitter in about thirty minutes after they’re poured into the pitcher.
While the bitterness of the fresh juice is alright for some people, it may not be fully appreciated by children. If this might be a problem after serving the juice, your best recourse is to juice Valencia oranges instead. The funny thing about Valencia oranges is after they have been squeezed, they can remain sweet and viable for days on end. Refrigerate the juice, and the Valencia orange juice won’t turn bitter, unlike navel orange juice. Valencia oranges are tangier than navel oranges. So, it has to be navel oranges in terms of what’s good to eat, but what is good to juice are Valencia oranges.
How Can You Tell If an Orange is Sweet?
The sweetness of an orange has a lot to do with the cultivar type and when the oranges are harvested. In the United States, oranges planted and harvested in zones nine to ten are ready for picking from the beginning of spring through fall.
The early season would be spring, and the late-season would be approach fall or during fall. The rule on oranges has always been: oranges are always sweeter and more palatable when harvested in the late season because the limonin content is reduced drastically. This is also why farmers tend to wait for one to two months after picking before crating and shipping oranges to markets and groceries.
It’s easy to spot sweet oranges. The oranges that are heaviest have the most juice and are often the ripest. These are naturally sweeter than other oranges in the same batch. You can also scratch a tiny area on the orange skin so you can smell the rind. If the smell is primarily sweet rather than tangy, then the orange is already ripe and sweet, too.