Are Valencia Oranges Sweet?
Summer is upon us, and North American-grown Navel Oranges (which are winter oranges) have pretty much vanished from the market, not to appear again until later in the fall. In there place you’ll now find California Valencia Oranges, a summer-grown variety known for the gorgeous color and sumptuously sweet flavor of its flesh.
An American Orange, an Exotic Name
The Valencia Orange is named for the Spanish city, but it was actually developed in Southern California. An American-born agronomist by the name of William Wolfskill hybridized the sweet orange on his Santa Ana farm in the 19th Century. The sweetness of his creation let him to name it for the city of Valencia in Spain, which at that time was renowned for its sweet orange trees.
Eventually, Wolfskill sold his patented sweet orange to other California citrus growers, and the Valencia’s success in Southern California led to the naming of the community located in Los Angeles County. This means that Valencia, California, is named for the orange, and not the other way around!
The Valencia Orange is available from February through October, hitting their peak season in May, June and July. This means you get to enjoy fresh citrus even after the Classic Navel is out of season!
When it comes to snackability, the Classic Navel has a few advantages over the summer Valencia. For one thing, Navels are seedless (the undeveloped “twin” fruit on the fruit’s stem-end, which gave the orange its name, is an indication of how the fruit is grown by grafting). And while juicy, Navels aren’t so juicy as to be drippy, making them less messy to snack on.
But nothing can beat the Valencia Orange when it comes to perfectly balanced, sweet-tart, citrusy flavor! In fact, Valencia’s are the go-to orange for chefs and home cooks alike when it comes to adding orange juice and zest to recipes. Valencia juice is the favorite orange juice for adding to marinades, cocktails, salad dressings, syrups and meat dishes, while the zest is used to flavor breads, cakes, and other baked goods.
Valencia: The Preferred Juicing Orange
What American-grown Valencia Oranges are used for most, however, is for making delicious orange juice. Valencia’s not only provide more sweet orange juice than Navels – their fruit stays sweet a lot longer, too! This is because the limonin (a natural compound and powerful antioxidant commonly found in citrus fruits) in Valencia Oranges resides in the fruit’s seeds. Navel Oranges are seedless, of course, so the limonin resides in the fruit’s flesh. Trouble is, when limonin is exposed to air it converts the enzymes and becomes very bitter and the juice sours. When you juice a Navel Orange, you’ll want to drink the juice right away, but Valencia Orange juice stays fresh and sweet much longer.
Hale Groves: The Best Place to Buy Valencia Oranges!
When you order citrus gift boxes from Hale Groves, you know your naturally sweet, vitamin-rich Heritage Valencia Oranges have stayed on the tree until they’ve soaked up every last bit of sunshine possible, so they’re loaded with flavor and sweetness and at their peak of ripeness. Our Valencia Oranges are a great way to add sweetness to your or your loved ones’ summer!