Oranges are highly valued for their vitamin C content. In fact, oranges are a primary source of vitamin C for most Americans.
This wonderful fruit has more to offer nutritionally than just this one nutrient, containing sufficient amounts of folacin, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin and magnesium. Most of the consumption of oranges is in the form of juice. Eating the whole fruit provides 140 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C, less than the juice, but with more fiber, which is not present in the juice.
The fruit is technically a hesperidium, a kind of berry. It consists of several easily separated carpels, or sections, each containing several seeds and many juice cells, covered by a leathery skin, containing numerous oil glands. Orange trees are evergreens, seldom exceeding 30 ft in height. The leaves are oval and glossy and the flowers are white and fragrant.
These semitropical evergreens probably originated in Southeast Asia. Columbus and other European travelers brought sweet orange seed and seedlings with them to the New World. By 1820 there were groves in St Augustine, Florida, and by the end of the Civil War oranges were being shipped north in groves. A freeze produced a major set back in production in 1895, but by 1910 crops in Florida had been reestablished.
Florida is the number one citrus producer, producing 70 percent of the U.S. crop, with 90 percent of that going into juice. However, Arizona, Texas, and California also produce small amounts, with variations in color and peel. (Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition).
The medicinal parts are the fresh and dried peel as well as the oil extracted from the peel.
Other Names: Orange, China Orange, Citrus dulcis
Sweet Orange promotes gastric juice secretion. It has been used for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite. No health hazards or side effects are known. There is a low potential for sensitization through skin contact with orange essential oil. This essential oil is used for many ailments: Antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, cordial, deodorant, digestive, stimulant (nervous) and tonic (cardiac, circulatory). It has also been applied to combat colds, constipation, dull skin, flatulence, the flu, gums, slow digestion, and stress.
The most common - and popular- means of using orange for its medicinal qualities is through drinking tea.
All varieties should be firm, heavy for size, and have fine-textured skin. Look for fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with bright, colorful skins. Skin color is not a good guide to quality. Fruits may be ripe even though they may have green spots. Avoid fruit with bruised, wrinkled or discolored skins; this indicates the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly. Citrus fruit peel may vary in thickness, depending on weather conditions during the growing season. Thinner skins tend to be juicier than thick skin fruits.
Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to 2 weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Fresh squeezed juice and grated peel or zest may be refrigerated or frozen, but whole citrus fruit should not be frozen.
Oranges may exhibit some re-greening of the skin; this does not adversely affect internal fruit quality. Neither does surface scarring, which occurs when wind brushed young fruit against the tree.
Varieties of Oranges
Varieties include the sweet orange, the sour orange, and the mandarin orange, or tangerine. The United States produces the sweet variety. Spain produces the sour variety, Seville, which is used in marmalades and liqueurs.
Most all oranges have a yellow orange color with sizes ranging from small to large. The inside of an orange is plump and juicy. Sweet favorites include the Blood, Hamlin, Jaffa, Navel, Pineapple and Valencia. The color depends on the climate. Florida's warm days and nights produce oranges with some green in the skin coloring. California and Arizona oranges tend to have deeper orange color due to cooler desert nights.
Carmalized Mandarin Oranges
Dollop mandarin orange halves with 1 teaspoon butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Mix a splash of brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, then drizzle over mandarins. Roast until tender and carmalized. Serve with cream, if desired.
Orange Spice Tea
There are plenty of orange spiced teas on the market, but it is a pleasure to personalize your own cup.
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half lengthwise
1 star anise
6 whole cloves
2 rounded teaspoons black tea leaves, such as English Breakfast
Using a vegetable peeler, remove two 3 inch strips of zest from the orange. Juice the orange and measure out 1/4 cup of the juice.
In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups water with the orange juice and zest, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Let the mixture come to a boil slowly over medium low heat. The spices will infuse the water. Meanwhile, fill a small teapot with hot tap water and let stand to heat the pot.
Discard the water in the teapot. Add the tea to the teapot. Pour in the contents of the saucepan, including the spices and zest. Cover and steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour through a tea strainer into two cups and serve hot.
Grandma's Orange Tarts Recipe
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