The orange fruit is one of the most widely consumed fruits in the Unites States. It is a member of the citrus family along with lemons, limes and grapefruit. Oranges are most often covered in a thick, orangey-yellow skin, and the inside is divided into segments of juicy pulp. Oranges are typically eaten by peeling the skin and consuming only the juice and pulp inside. Some individuals though enjoy the peel as well. A popular method of making the peel palatable is to dip the thick skin into melted chocolate which produces a sweet and nutritious candy treat.
In the United States, oranges can be found growing abundantly in Florida and California, as well as parts of Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Brazil is the current leading cultivator of this fruit, producing more than half of the world’s oranges.
There are more than 16 varieties of oranges grown in the United States. The most popular variety is the sweet orange of which there are three main subcategories: naval oranges, common oranges and blood oranges.
Naval oranges are available in the spring, summer and fall. Their name is derived from the small protrusion on the skin resembling a human naval. They are popular mainly because of their long growing season and their classification as an “eating” orange.
Common oranges (or blond oranges), including the popular Valencia, are available only during the short winter season when naval oranges are not available. They make up two-thirds of all oranges grown and are most commonly used for juice production.
Blood oranges are differentiated from more commonly known oranges by their very dark red skin and the squeezed juice which often takes on a reddish color. They are mostly grown in southern European countries, such as Spain and Italy, and are considered the sweetest-tasting orange variety.
Some varieties of bitter oranges are also grown. These are used for marmalades and some citrus-flavored liquors.
The orange fruit is rich in antioxidants and vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid and dietary fiber. These vitamins promote a healthy immune system and prevent heart disease and high blood pressure. Oranges also contain a significant amount of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.