Oranges In Season
Once upon a time, oranges were small sour fruits that were eventually cultivated into the large sweet varieties that we know and love today. This cultivation process has taken over 3000 years.
Although unknown in a wild state, orange trees seem to have originated in Southeast Asia and are now grown in the warmer climate regions all around the world (the United States being the largest producer) with the main crops in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.
There are three basic types of oranges. Sweet oranges are the most common for both juicing and eating - varieties include the popular navel and Valencia. Loose-skinned varieties, like members from the Mandarin family, earned their name from how easily their skins peel off, oftentimes in one fell swoop. Bitter oranges are not eaten raw but come to life when cooked into marmalades and sauces. Navels and tangerines are best until May, and Valencias are in season now until November.
The peel of the orange is also utilized by chefs and herbalists for candying, zesting and for its powerfully sweet aromatic oil. Try using the zest in sauces (see Savory Orange Sauce, below), vinaigrettes (see Green and Gold Salad, below), muffins and tart crusts.
Oranges are tree-ripened before harvested. Don't be fooled by a greenish hue; the orange may indeed be perfectly ripe, as some varieties regreen when fully ripened. Many commercial oranges are gassed or dyed with food coloring to make their skins brighter, so brightness may not be an indication of ripeness either.
Commercial oranges are high on the list for most chemically sprayed produce; buy organic whenever possible.
Green and Gold Salad
Savory Orange Sauce
Raw Orange Tart with Lemon Syrup
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