Hale Groves Winter Citrus Guide: Oranges

By: The Hale Groves Team | On: | Category: Fruit Facts
valencia oranges

Do you love oranges? You’re not alone – oranges are (arguably) the world’s most popular citrus fruit. But were you aware that there are many different kinds of oranges?

It’s true – perhaps you enjoy summer oranges (like juicy Valencia Oranges which come into season in the United States during the summer months), or maybe your Christmas stocking just wouldn’t be complete without a seedless Navel Orange, which is available in the winter.

But the classic Navel isn’t the only mandarin orange related citrus that comes into season during the winter months. Bright, sweet citrus fruits like Tangerines, Honeybells and other mandarin varieties and hybrids of different varieties are ready to bring a little sunshine into the gloomy winter months – as well as some variety into your diet.

If you think you might like to buy orange varieties that are a bit different than what you usually get this winter, here are Hale Groves’ top five winter citrus orange varieties:

  1. Mandarins (AKA Holiday Golds)

You might think we’d start our list with the Classic Navel, but did you know Navels wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Mandarins? It’s true – almost all of the commercially grown citrus varieties we know and love are hybrids of three “true” citrus fruits: the limon, the pomelo, and the mandarin.

Small and sweet, Mandarins (like Hale Groves own Honey Golds) are often marketed as Tangerines, but while all Tangerines are Mandarins, not all Mandarins are Tangerines. They’re small, squat, orange citrus fruits with few seeds, easy-to-peel skins, and a very sweet yet zesty flavor. Their size and sweet flavor make them popular with kids, and the fact that they’re easy to peel makes them popular with those who often pack lunches to take with them. In addition to enjoying them fresh, Satsuma fans like to add them to salads. Mandarins are wonderful additions to salads and ambrosia recipes.

  1. Grove Navel Oranges

If you’re in the mood for an orange, the sweet, seedless, easy-to-peel Navel Orange is always a classic. Perfect for eating out of hand and not too drippy, this tangy-sweet snack sections up beautifully and also works in many recipes. You can usually begin to buy Navel Oranges starting in November.

Since Navel Oranges are seedless, they must be grown through grafting. All navel orange trees are genetically identical clones of the original fruit discovered on the grounds of a Brazilian monastery in 1820, where the first fruits spontaneously appeared on a seeded orange tree. What makes the navel orange unique is the small hole (which resembles a human navel) at the blossom end of the fruit. A second, undeveloped fruit grows in this “navel” of the larger fruit.

There’s nothing like that sweet-yet-tangy flavor of an orange. If sunshine had a taste, orange might be it! A fresh orange is delicious on its own, but its unique taste can add a bright flavor to salads, soups, entrees, desserts, and many other recipes.

  1. Cara Cara Navels

When most people think of a navel orange, they’re generally thinking of the Classic or Washington Navel, but there are actually other varieties of navel oranges for sale each winter. Some might be hard to find locally, but you can find Cara Cara Oranges online from Hale Groves.

Like all navel oranges, Cara Cara Navels are seedless and sport the trademark “navel,” but they have a sweet, berry-like flavor and deep-pink flesh that makes them unique from other oranges. The Cara Cara’s lovely pink color comes from an antioxidant called lycopene, a plant nutrient that gives red and pink fruits (such as tomatoes, watermelons and Pink Grapefruit) that characteristic pigment. Lycopene is also responsible for that unique, Cara Cara Orange flavor, which is less acidic and more berry-like than other orange varieties (including the Classic Navel). Lycopene has been linked to many health benefits ranging from heart health to protection against sunburns and certain types of cancers, so Cara Cara Oranges may actually be even better for you than most other oranges.

  1. Honey-Sweet Tangerines

Some people refer to tangerines as tangerine oranges, but they are very different fruits, and telling the difference between orange and tangerine is easier than trying to differentiate between other mandarin varieties. The most obvious difference between the two citrus fruits is their size: oranges tend to be larger and rounder than tangerines. While both fruits have thin orange skins, the skin of a tangerine is looser, and therefore easier to peel, than that of an orange. In terms of color, an orange has a more yellowish orange skin, while the tangerine’s skin is reddish orange and darker.

Tangerines are sweeter than oranges, and their flavor tends to be more intense. Because they are small, the honey tangerine is easier to handle and a perfect sized snack portion for kids.

  1. Honeybells & Hale Groves Sugar Belles™

No Hale Groves Florida citrus order online order you place this winter would be complete without one of our amazing Tangelo varieties! Also known as the Honeybells, this short-season citrus fruit is a tangerine/grapefruit hybrid that combines the sweet and sour taste of both fruits. They’re very juicy, with a loose, easy-to-peel skin that makes them easier to eat than other oranges. You can easily recognize Honeybell oranges by their stem-end neck, which gives them the bell shape from which they take their name. Florida Honeybells are bright reddish orange in color when fully mature.

Sugar Belles® are a cross between a Honeybell and a Clementine. Like Honeybells, Sugar Belles are bright orange in color and slightly bell-shaped at one end. They’re nice and juicy, but not as drippy or runny as Honeybells, and they have an incredibly sweet, vibrant flavor that makes them a welcome sight in citrus gift boxes.

Whatever winter orange is your favorite, you can rejoice in knowing that citrus season is upon us, and Hale Groves is the best place to get the freshest, best fruit – guaranteed!

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