The Right Dish: A Guide To Orange Varietals

Though famous for their high vitamin C levels, Oranges have a ton of useful culinary applications. However, some oranges are better suited to specific dishes than others. Let’s explore the most common varietals with some help from our friends over at Sunkist.

Navel Oranges

Seasonality: November-June

Refreshingly sweet and juicy, navel oranges have a pleasant floral aroma. The slightly thick skin peels easily, revealing a bright orange, seedless interior.

Best Uses: These are the most popular oranges for eating on their own, and are not suitable for juicing. Try including slices to freshen up a dish, or zest and add to various seasonings like sugar or salt for a citrus twist.

Valencia Oranges

Seasonality: February-November

Often called the summer orange, Valencias have a peak season in North America from July through October. Maintaining a perfect balance of tart and sweet, Valencias have a bold, refreshing zing.

Best Uses: The King of OJ, the flavor profile of Valencias create the ideal cup of juice. Unlike other oranges, Valencias carry an antioxidant known as limonin in their seeds rather than the flesh. This compound reacts when exposed to air, so having it in the seeds helps creates a juice that stays sweeter and fresher longer.

Cara Cara Navel Oranges

Seasonality: November-June

The “power orange,” Cara Cara’s have 20% more vitamin C and 30% more vitamin A than standard navels. Extremely sweet, they have a lower acidity than other oranges. Unlike navels, their seedless interior has a rich pink hue due to the presence of lycopene.

Best Uses: The saccharine sweetness is a great addition to numerous baked goods, and pairs well with chicken and fish. Try substituting Cara Caras in your next old-fashioned for a trendy take on a cocktail standard.

Blood Oranges

Seasonality: December- April

Getting their name from their maroon colored interior, Blood Oranges offer a distinct, rich orange taste with a hint of fresh raspberry. The peel, which often shows a red blush, helps to distinguish it from other oranges.

Best Uses: With a unique taste all its own, blood oranges are best suited as a showcase flavor. While the fruit is especially delicious in winter salads, juicing is a great way to spice up a bloody mary or mimosa!