We’re all familiar with oranges, but there are a lot more in the citrus fruit family than navel oranges and tangerines. If you’re bored with them, get to know (or rekindle with) their five sweet and unusual relatives.
Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong: All oranges contain vitamin C, an immune booster as well as carotene, an antioxidant. While all oranges are delicious to eat on their own, these are also tasty in particular recipes. After you discover and try them all, we’ll be asking you, “Orange you glad you did?”
Cara Cara Orange
This early to mid-season seedless naval orange has a bright red-orange flesh. A cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel, this fruit was discovered at Hacienda Cara Cara, Venezuela in 1976. From Venezuela, it was brought to Florida, then California.
Taste: The Cara Cara orange is sweet in flavor, evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, orange and blackberry. It has a bit of a zing, with a slight cranberry flavor.
Season: Californian Cara Cara oranges are available in late November through April.
Benefits: Newly branded as “The Power Orange,” this orange is low in acid and packed with tons of minerals to power a healthy immune system. Additionally, Cara Caras are a good source of vitamin C, A and fiber, as well as folate, potassium and a natural source of Lycopene, an antioxidant.
Tips: Cara Cara is a popular choice in vinaigrette dressings, salmon or halibut recipes, pico de gallo.
Blood oranges, feature little or no seeds and are smaller than the average orange. The flesh ranges from a bright red to deep maroon color. These are the primary oranges grown in Italy. In the states, blood oranges are grown in Texas and California.
Taste: It has an intense orange taste with hints of raspberry.
Season: Available from January through mid-April.
Benefits: Blood oranges get their red color from high concentrations of a pigment called anthocyanin, which is common in flowers but not in other citrus fruits. According to Sunkist’s website, anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the effects of free radicals. Free radicals can be caused by pollution, anxiety, poor diet and aging.
Tips: Blood oranges go well with roasted or grilled meat, poultry or any other meat substitute. You can use it as a marmalade, a zest for baking or enjoy slices in a salad.
Often called the “summer orange,” this bright orange citrus fruit is thin-skinned, making it easy to peel. The name comes from Valencia, Spain, known for its sweet orange trees. This sweet orange was first hybridized in southern California and is primarily grown for orange juice production.
Taste: Valencia oranges are extra sweet and juicy.
Season: Available from February through October, with peak supplies from May through July.
Benefits: During warm temperatures of the season, the skin may reabsorb more chlorophyll, giving the skin a greenish hue. Chlorophyll has been known for its detoxifying and energy-boosting properties, as well as cleansing the blood.
Tips: Try with bananas to make a delicious fresh fruit smoothie. If you’re craving sweet, fresh-squeezed OJ, Valencia oranges are the way to go. If you’re not drinking it right away, just make sure that juice is in a tightly covered container so it keeps all of its flavor and vitamin C properties.
Clementines is the tiniest kind of mandarin orange, a type of tangerine. These mini-oranges are easy to peel and are almost always seedless. Imported from Spain, Morocco and other parts of North Africa, Clementines are a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin. This variety was introduced to California in the early 1900s, but didn’t gain popularity in the United States until almost a century later. In the States, Clementines are often referred to as “Cuties.”
Taste: Clementines are juicy and super sweet like candy, only healthier and more fresh.
Season: These are known as the winter oranges, available late October through February.
Benefits: These tiny fruits are packed with vitamin C, an immune boosting property. Since they’re so small and irresistible, it’s hard to eat just one. You’ll be sure to get all of its nutrients.
Tips: Clementines are amazing to eat on their own. Or, you can peel them and sprinkle the slices on top of a salad for a sweet kick.
The tangelo is a citrus fruit hybrid of a tangerine and pomelo (a type of grapefruit), hence the name “tangelo.” Occasionally referred to as “Honeybells” for their shape, tangelos generally have loose skin and are even easier to peel than typical oranges. Tangelos have few to no seeds. The Minneola is the most popular type of tangelo and has a deep orange color.
Taste: Tangelos have a sweet, tart flavor. They are even sweeter and juicier than tangerines.
Season: Available December through February, with its peak month in January.
Benefits: One medium tangelo is packed with vitamin C, calcium and is mostly composed of water. Great for hydration!
Tips: Add to any recipe that calls for oranges for an added kick. You can also juice Minneola tangelos.
Not only are these unique fruits of the citrus family great for your health, they also serve as a healthy substitute for unhealthy, sugary snacks. Now that’s what we call a sweet deal. While you’re at it, jazz up your citrus intake with a dose of dark chocolate, another scrumptious and healthy treat.