Oranges: picking, selecting, storing

24 Oct 2013 09.50 am by Renny Wijeyamohan

Oranges are one of the most visible fruits worldwide. While backpacking across the globe I often came across a humble glass of orange juice served at local restaurants – even in remote villages. Originally cultivated in Asia, oranges followed trade routes across to North Africa and the Mediterranean and later North America. Oranges are high in Vitamin C and are a nutritious and refreshing summer treat.


Picking oranges

Pick oranges from the tree by grasping them firmly and then gently pulling and twisting to “snap” them from the tree. Alternatively, a knife can be used to produce a cleaner cut and avoid damaging the fruit. Sometimes, the orange peel can tear during picking. If this happens, make sure to eat these fruit first. The break in the peel will speed up the fermentation process and these fruit will go off quicker. If you are harvesting more than one orange from a tree it’s a good idea to pick one and taste it. This will give you a far better indication of ripeness than colour and aroma.


Selecting oranges

Oranges don’t ripen off the tree, so you need to make sure that you pick them at the right time. Select oranges to pick by looking at the peel colour. The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources recommends picking fruit with “a yellow-orange colour on at least 25 per cent of the peel”. 


If you’re choosing oranges at the supermarket or grocery store look for fruit that is firm and weighty, without punctures to the peel and soft areas – these are signs that the orange could be overripe and may be past its nutritional prime. The skin should be smooth and shiny and should bear a fresh aroma when sniffed. If an orange feels light or has blemished or wrinkly skin, this can mean that the orange has “dried out” and should not be eaten.


If you’re selecting navel oranges (the ones with the “belly button” indentation where the stem has been removed), pick the ones with a smaller navel – these will last longer than those with a bigger navel.


Storing oranges

Oranges can be stored for between 3 to 8 weeks in the refrigerator, which compared to other fruits and vegetables, is quite a long lifespan. Oranges are a water-rich fruit, so while they can be frozen this will affect flavour and texture and should generally be avoided. If you want to be more adventurous, try juicing your oranges, canning them or turning them into marmelade (orange jam).


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