The Delicious Orange
Arab traders brought the bitter orange from the East to the Mediterranean. The Moors introduced it to Spain, where it became known as the Seville or Bergamot and is used mainly for essential oils and perfumes. Since bitter oranges are too sour to eat in their natural state, they are mostly used for candied peel, marmalade and liqueur.
Columbus brought the sweet orange seeds to the New World with the hopes of starting profitable orange plantations. The Spanish missionaries planted orange groves in what would become Saint Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Additionally, Franciscan monks planted orange seeds at the missions they established in southern California in the late eighteenth century.
Blood oranges are very sweet and juicy with a rich, full-bodied citrus flavor and a raspberry aftertaste. They are seedless, very firm and less acidic than common oranges. Their colors range from bright red to garnet or purple.
The mandarin orange is a small, loose-skinned variety first brought to England from China in 1805. Good- quality mandarins are heavy for their size because they contain a lot of juice. These delicious treats are very sweet and seedless. Small mandarin sections are often seen in fruit salads.
Navel oranges are native to Brazil and get their name for the belly-button- like spot on their blossom end. Their skins are bumpy, thick and easy to peel. They are usually seedless, sweet and very moist with lots of juiciness.
The tangelo is a hybrid of the mandarin orange with either a grapefruit or a pomelo. They have an asymmetrical shape with a deep orange-and-bronze- colored peel and a sweet-tart flavor.
The Minneola is a hard, shiny, heavy-feeling orange that is full of seeds, tastes like a blend of orange and tangerine, and can be either tart or sweet.
The temple orange, which is sometimes called the Royal Mandarin, is a cross between a tangerine and an orange; it resembles an overgrown tangerine. It has a distinctive essential-oil fragrance and a red-orange flesh that is very sweet and juicy. Its flavor is similar to that of a tangy orange.
The Valencia, the most widely grown orange, accounts for about half the orange crop produced in the United States each year. It can vary from small to almost as large as a grapefruit, and has a thin, smooth skin and a slight oval shape. It is sweet and juicy with numerous seeds and most often used to make orange juice.
Oranges are used to tone up and purify the entire body: as an internal antiseptic, a stimulant tonic and a supportive agent. The orange’s natural acid and sugar aid digestion and stimulate the activity of the glands in the stomach. Freshly squeezed juice is rich in lime and alkaline salts that counteract the tendency to acidosis and stimulate the peristaltic activity of the colon.
Oranges are an excellent source of water-soluble vitamin C, but as C is the least stable of all vitamins, storing orange juice at low temperatures destroys the vitamin to some extent. Pasteurization may alter the vitamin benefits; it also turns the juice acidic rather than alkaline, and it thus can cause indigestion and heart burn. To get the full benefits from the orange it is best to eat the whole fresh orange, excluding the outer skin.
Fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a wonderful base for salad dressings that are light and refreshing. Try this favorite to bring zest and sparkle to salad.
Orange Coconut Vinegar Dressing1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice 2 Tbsp coconut vinegar 1/2 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 Tbsp raw honey
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt pinch cayenne pepper
Put all the ingredients in a small mason jar and put on the lid. Shake until well blended. Toss with salad greens and choice of fresh raw vegetables.
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of The Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering healthy lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 and visit www.livingfoodsinstitute.com