Varieties of sweet oranges include the following:
Bahianinha is an exotic cousin to the Washington navel. This variety, which is exported from Brazil, is second only to the common sweet orange in commercial citrus importance. It is smaller with a thinner rind than the Washington navel, but it is dimpled and easy to peel and easy to segment. The crisp deep orange pulp has a sweet flavour and is usually seedless, making it a popular orange. This variety makes up about 30% of Brazil’s citrus crop, and is grown mainly around São Paulo.
Berna is a moderately sweet orange, excellent for cooking and having virtually no seeds. It is grown mainly in Spain, from where it is thought to have originated. However, it is waning in popularily in favour of the Valencia. The Berna is a medium-sized fruit with ten to twelve segments, a yellow-orange rind, golden pulp, and a unique pear-like aftertaste.
Blonde are pale-skinned winter oranges that include Jaffa and Shamouti varieties, native to Israel. The large fruit have thick skins that are easy to peel, and the flesh is crisp and juicy.
Blood (Maltese) are small and are the best oranges to use for sorbets and dessert where colour is important. They are the essential ingredient of the Maltaise sauce, an orange-flavoured mayonnaise, which takes its name from the sour, but juicy, Maltese blood orange. Their flavour has an interesting mix of oranges, raspberries, and concord grapes. Its pulp ranges from red to reddish purple, and its rind from an orange to an orange deeply suffused with red. The branches of the tree are coverd with thorns, which could also have contributed to the name and not just the colour of the fruit. It is generally thought to have originated in Italy as a mutation, and has been cultivated there for centuries. It is also extensively grown in southern Spain and Malta, although the Maltese claim origin. Blood oranges are also raised on a small scale in California which is raising more awareness of its existence in North America.
Cara Cara is also known as the Red Navel and is likely the product of a Washington and the Brazilian Bahai navel union. The fruit and juice are a dark red colour and extremely sweet with a low acid content. It originated at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Valencia, Venezuela. It is a medium-sized round fruit with ten to twelve segments and few, if any, seeds. The yellowish orange rind and rich red pulp make it quite distinguishable and its appeal increases because of its cherry-flavoured overtones.
Dream Navel is known for its easy peeling and separation; but it is also a sweet, juicy, less acidic orange than most other navels. It is a round shape, with nine to twelve segments, and is often seedless. The Dream is small to medium-sized with a pale orange rind, light orange pulp, and a pleasant ripe-mango aroma. The Dream Navel, a name patented in 1944, was discovered in Orlando, Florida, which gave rise to such other dream makers as Walt Disney.
Hamlin originated as a chance seedling in a grove near Glenwood, Florida, owned by A. G. Hamlin, and has become the most widely grown orange variety in Florida. It survived the great freeze of 1894-1895, which made it a greater rival of the Parson Brown. This medium to small globular fruit is bright orange when mature at harvest between October and January. Its thin rind has a very fleshy pulp, making it one of the most productive oranges for processing. It has a sweet flavour lacking in acid and usually with few seeds.
Jaffa and another fruit of the genus Joppa are seedlings from the Israel Beledi tree, which also produced the Shamouti. The Jaffa was first introduced to Florida in the 1880s as a potentially cold-tolerant, high quality, midseason species, and soon became popular for its flavour enjoyed as juice or in cooking. The Jaffa orange is also very popular in Great Britain, where Richard the Lion-Hearted spent the winter of 1191 in the citrus groves of Jaffa during his crusades. The fruit is oblique-shaped, with a slightly rough, light orange rind. The flesh is a pale orange, with only ten segments and a few seeds.
Jincheng is the most popular orange in China, and was introduced to the US by the USDA for development. It is a round, smallish fruit with generally only ten segments and some seeds. It has a thick, easy to peel rind and a sweet light orange pulp that has a hint of lime.
Kona is a type of Valencia orange introduced to Hawaii in 1792 by Captain George Vancouver, whose ship’s surgeon and naturalist, Archibald Menzies, raised the seedlings on board and gave them to several Hawaiian chefs. In Kailua-Kona, some of this original stock still bears fruit. For several decades in the 19th century, these oranges were the leading export from the Kona district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Kona has a sweet acid balance reminiscent of pineapple. Its juicy pulp is divided into ten to thirteen segments.
Late Navel is named for its January to March harvest season, considered late for a navel orange. Like other navels, however, it has a crisp, succulent flavour. This round fruit has twelve segments with six to eight seeds located in its brilliant orange flesh that tastes somewhat like a honeydew melon. The rind is smooth, a bright orange, and easy to peel.
Moro is a “blood” orange, so named for its dark burgundy colour of its rind. Originally from Sicily, it is common throughout Italy, and quite versatile fresh or cooked. This medium-sized fruit has a relatively long harvest, lasting from December through to April. The orange has ten to twelve segments and is almost seedless. The flavour is unequaled, ranging from sweet to tart with berrylike overtones. The Moro is now known as the “connoisseur’s citrus”.
Moro Tarocco is Italy’s finest orange variety and among the best of the Mediterranean fruit, having the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. The ovoid shape resembles that of the tangelo or Minneola. It is a medium-sized seedless fruit with a rich, juicy, raspberry flavour, which is excellent for juicing or cooking. The original mutation occurred in the 17th century in Sicily, creating the striking caramel-toned endocarp. This colour is the result of the pigment called anthocarpium, not usually found in citrus, but is common in other red fruits and flowers.
Navel and Navelina are seedless oranges that take their names from the navel protuberance at the end, which contains a tiny embryonic fruit. They have thick, pebbly skins and very sweet juicy flesh. The skin is particularly good for making preserves or as candied peel. The navel oranges thrive in such subtropical climates as the Mediterranean, and grown extensively in Spain, Morocco, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, California, Florida, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It was certainly the Brazilian navel orange called Bahia that was introduced to the US in 1870 to fill the need for a good early variety. Navels are seedless and propoagate by cuttings and were imported by the USDA in Washington, who distributed them to growers in Florida and California, and thus acquiring the name of Washington Navel (see below).
Parson Brown is an orange developed in Florida from a seedling taken to Savannah, Georgia, from China. The resulting fruit was named after the Reverend N. L. Brown of Wester, Florida, who discovered the chance seedling in his grove around 1856. Although small and productive, the fruit is very seedy, but is recognized for its thick, pebbly, orange rind and dull yellow pulp that holds an abundance of juice with low sugar and acidity. It is better suited to recipes that call for citrus as it has a plum-like character and taste.
Pera is popular in the Brazilian citrus-producing industry, yielding 7.5 million tons per year. It is a light orange in colour, having a firm, tough, rough texture, which makes it difficult to eat out of hand. While the juice is vibrant and plentiful, it lacks richness. It is a small, oval fruit with only ten segments and many seeds.
Rhode Red is a Valencia orange, but has a more highly coloured flesh, more juice, and less acidity than the Valencia. It also has less Vitamin C. It was discovered in 1955 in a grove near Sebring, Florida, by Paul Rhode when a budwood was put on sour orange stock. The result was a large, vigourous, productive tree. In 1974, five trees were accepted into the Citrus Budwood Registration Program, and the rest is history. This round, medium to large fruit has few seeds, and a deep orange colour with juicy flesh that tastes like an apple.
Roble was first shipped from Madrid, Spain, in 1851 by Joseph Roble to his homestead in what is now Roble’s Park in Tampa, Florida. It is a highly recommended sweet orange of superior quality, and contains 15% more sugar than any other early or midseason variety. The Roble is a light orange in colour, of medium size, has ten to twelve segments, and has a brilliant orange, very juicy pulp.
Salustianas are a very rare, seedless, and juicy orange.
Sanguinelli is cultivated in Sicily and is actually a mutant of the Doble Fina. It was discovered in 1929 at Almenara, in the Castellón province of Spain. It has a well-balanced flavour, with a hint of plums. Its oblong shape, golden yellow rind, and succulent red blush pulp make it an interesting looking fruit, as well as a delicious one. The Sanguinelli is common in the Mediterranean, where it is commonly called a blood orange. The complex burgundy red colour of the pulp needs cool to cold weather to develop. It makes an excellent juice.
Shamouti, Jaffa is a mutation of an earlier and inferior Palestinian variety, dating from around 1850. The tree is beautiful, however, with its dense foliage, large leaves, and no thorns. The fruit rivals a fine perfume, and its brilliant orange flesh is absent of seeds. The thick rind is somewhat dimpled and easily peeled. The Shamouti is harvested in Israel from December through May.
Valencia is the most important commercial variety in the world, living up to its nickname of the “King of Juice Oranges”. Valencia accounts for 50% of the total Florida fruit crop and the principal variety used for processing into juice. The Valencia originated in China and taken to Europe by Portuguese or Spanish voyagers. The Englishman, Thomas Rivers, brought plants from the Azores to Florida in 1870, where it was first cultivated as the Brown “orange”, but later renamed Hart’s Tardiff, Hart, and Hart Late, and rapidly became Florida’s premier sweet orange cultivar. The Valencia is perfect for the tropics, even though colour development may vary when the weather is hot. It has a thin and slightly pebbly rind. The flesh is bright orange and extremely juicy and nearly seedless. Valencia is a late orange, which has a smooth, thin skin, and contains few if any seeds, pale flesh, a sharp flavour, and is very juicy.
Washington Navel, California Navel is originally a mutant from Bahia, Brazil, arriving in North America via a missionary who was so impressed with the rich flavour and its seedlessness, that she sent twelve nursery-sized trees to the USDA, who propagated them and offered them to anyone who cared to give the species a try. In 1873, Eliza Tibbets of Riverside, California, asked for a few and soon launched the industry in the Western US. The fruit is large and the rind easily removed. It is not very juicy, but the flavour is excellent. Today, the fruit is commercially grown, not only in Brazil and California, but also in Paraguay, Spain, South Africa, Australia, and Japan.
Varieties of sour oranges include the following:
Typical sour orange
African sour orange has a thick, pale orange rind with a green cap. It is small to medium in size and normally has ten segments. The flesh is golden orange, with up to six seeds per fruit.
Argentine sour orange has a thick, loose rind that surrounds sinewy segments. The pulp has a lemon-lime flavour, and contains numerous seeds. In a cross-section, the Argentine orange resembles a grapefruit.
Bergamot oranges (Citrus bergamia) are from a rare variety of bitter orange grown in Calabria and Sicily for making fragrant oil used mainly in perfumery, but also used for its distinctive flavour in Earl Grey Tea. These are inedible, but the peel can be candied or made into unusual marmalade. The flavour of the peel defies description, and is so highly-scented that only minute amounts are needed to flavour puddings and confections. Needless to say, it is so rare and expensive that few have the opportunity to sample its taste. It is all but unknown in North America, and should not be confused with the “false bergamot”, which is only vaguely reminiscent of the true flavour. The false bergamot, also known as Oswego-tea, fragrant balm, and bee balm, is derived from the plant Monarda didyma (Family Labiatae), a type of mint indigenous to the New World, and also used to flavour certain types of tea.
Bigaradier Apepu was originally carried to France by the Crusaders; and, by 1322, Nice had begun cultivating and trading them. They were also the fruit planted in the orangeries of Versailles and Paris, making them a member of the citrus nobility. This large globose fruit has a medium-thick orange rind, twelve segments, and many seeds, with a flavour tasting like a combination of orange and lime.
Bittersweet, Daidai (Japanese) is the Spanish principal variety of sour orange. It has clusters of fruit with very seedy endocarp (pulp) enclosed in a thick orange rind. The segment walls of this oblong fruit are tough, with an open center. The fruit is much too bitter and acidic to be eaten fresh, but is used in marmalades, juice, and for its essential oil. When the leaves are crushed, they have a pleasant and distinctive aroma. This variety is grown in Japan and in Florida’s Indian River area. The pectin and acid levels of the Bittersweet variety are ideal for preserving.
Chinotto is a beautiful fruit, with a golden orange rind and deep orange flesh. It is often used as a centerpiece or an ornamental for which it has become famous in Italy. It is also prized in the candy-making industry. The Chinotto ranks with apricots and cherries as the most famous crystallized fruits from Apt, France, (near Avignon). The Chinotto leaf is used in the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. The small fruit grows in clusters and has many large seeds.
Gou Tou is from China, and has many of the characteristics of the grapefruit, including its distinctive yellow skin. The fruit is oblate, with a thick rind, sinewy segments, and many large seeds. The sparse juice tastes slightly like lime. Researchers are now suggesting that it may become a significant disease-resistant rootstock.
Seville is the tree that traveled to Spain with the Moors. Commercial groves exist now in most areas of the Mediterranean, with the major industry around Seville, Spain. It is an attractive orange, with a radiant golden colour in both its rind and flesh. It is of medium size, with ten large segments and many seeds. The pulp is tender but highly acidic. The Seville’s sour flavour has a distinctive bitterness, making it superior for marmalade. The juice of the sour orange is often used as a marinade in Latin American countries, where the trees are common. A classic Cuban mojo or marinade is made with equal parts of sour orange and olive oil, along with garlic and onions.
Tunis is a Citrus aurantium hybrid. Its full name is the “Tunisian sour orange”. The country of origin, and after which it is named, produces 500 acres of it yearly. The fruit has a thick orange-coloured rind and a seedy, pale orange flesh. Makrand is one of the most popular Tunisian sweets, using this sour orange peel with dates, cinnamon, and peanuts.