The varieties of Oranges
There are several hundreds of varieties of oranges and they can be divided in two main varieties: red flesh fruits (e.g. Sanguinello, Tarocco, Moro…) and blond flesh fruits (e.g. Navel, Ovale, Washington Navel, Biondo comune…).
Firstly, they are divided in sweet and bitter oranges. The bitter orange (Citrus aurantium L.) comes from China and was introduced in Europe by Arabs in the X century. The flesh of this fruit is acidic, bitter and full of seeds and its skin is orange and quite thin. The bitter orange is used above all in the food industry for the production of orange juice (both red and blond flesh varieties), candied oranges, dehydrated oranges, essential oils extracted from the skin. They are also used in pastry-making or for the production of liqueurs, such as the famous “Curaçao".
The sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) instead comes from Vietnam, India and South China and is the most cultivated citrus fruit in the world.
An important way to group the numerous varieties of oranges is to divide them between blond oranges, with yellow-orange flesh, and blood oranges.
Blood oranges have a typical red flesh because of some anthocyanins, absent in the blond varieties, and have extraordinary beneficial effects, apart from being fleshy and tasty. Oranges are divided in two big groups:
1)pigmented oranges (Tarocco, Moro, Sanguinello)
2)blond oranges (Navel, Ovale, Valentia, Washington Navel, etc.).
The varieties of oranges are divided according to different parameters:
- Time of ripening: from the very early (they ripen at mid-November, e.g. Navel, Skaggs Bonanza Navel orange) to the very late oranges (they ripen until the end of May and beyond, e.g. Late Valencia)
- internal colouring of fruits: with a blond flesh (e.g. Ovale, Late Valencia, Belladonna) or pigmented (e.g. Moro, Tarocco, Sanguinello, Sanguinello Moscato);
- acid content;
- presence of the navel: it is due to a process called syncarpy, that is the formation of a secont fruit (e.g. Washington Navel, Navel, Thomson, Navelate, Golden Buckeye.
Another particular sub-group are the so-called “navel oranges”, that have a typical second, smaller fruit, which did not completely form inside the first orange. This navel is near the apex and is a distinctive characteristic of this group of citrus fruits; Naveline, Washington Navel, Brazilian.
Among the numerous varieties of oranges produced and present on the world fruit and vegetable market, the most important are:
- Sicilian red orange: the PGI orange called Sicilian Red orange defines some varieties with red flesh (among which the varieties Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello) that follow what provided for by production rules “PGI Sicilian red orange” regulated by the Ministero per le Politiche Agricole (Ministry of Agriculture). However, the orange is grown also in Calabria and the oranges must withstand some precise restrictions as to size, sugar level, state and way of preservation.
- Ribera’s PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) Orange, produced in the province of Agrigento, in the varieties Brazilian of Ribera, Washington Navel and Navelina;
- Gargano’s PGI Orange (blond common cultivar from Gargano and Duretta del Gargano): the Duretta del Gargano, also called “Arancia Tosta” is oval or round, with a light orange smooth skin. The flesh is crispy, amber-coloured and fine; there are few to no seeds. Oranges are medium, with a diameter of about 55-60 mm.
- Sanguinello and Sanguigno: Oranges have an oval shape, they are pigmented and their flesh, which goes from yellow-orange to red flesh, is not very sugary and is rich in citric acid; there are few seeds. This variety comes from Spain, fruits ripen in February, but remain on plants until the end of April. Apart from the variety of oranges “Sanguinello Comune”, there is also the variety of oranges “Sanguinello Moscato”, whose origins are Sicilian. This variety differs from the first as its fruits are slightly bigger and their shape is longer. The oranges from the sanguinello moscato variety have a skin with less hints of red than the Common variety, but the main difference is the particular aroma of the flesh, which reminds that of the Moscato grape.
- Biondo commune (ordinary blond): it is a round our pear-shaped orange; its oranges are medium-large (minimum diameter 60mm), with a yellow-intense golden, thin and resistant and fine-grained skin. The flesh is orange and stands out for its pleasant and refreshing taste; the juice yield is very high. Usually fruits are seedless or there are only a few seeds.
- Brazilian orange: this variety of oranges belongs to the Navel group. The Brazilian oranges are harvested from December to mid-April and have a crunchy, tasty flesh with a very low acidity percentage.
- Moro: this variety of oranges comes from Italy and is characterized by an orange-intense red flesh due to the presence of a lot of pigments (anthocyanins). The fruit is oval or round, with a truncated apex and a more rounded base. The skin is medium thick, orange with some red hints and fine-grained. The flesh is juicy, fine-grained and with a high acidity level, completely seedless. The oranges from the Moro variety are present on the market from the first decade of December until the end of February; they can be easily preserved (up until 30-50 days after harvesting), on condition that fruits are kept at a temperature of 8 to 10 °C, with high levels of humidity, in order to avoid dehydration.
- Navel:this group of oranges (Navelina, Washington Navel, and Navelate) are round with a rounded base, sometimes truncated and with not deep wrinkles and are usually big in size. Fruits usually have an intense orange skin, they are regularly round and with papillas. The flesh is orange, rough, soft and not very juicy. Navel oranges are available on the market from October until the end of May.
It is a very widespread variety on the market for the good taste of the flesh and the sweetness of the juice, usually blond-yellow.
- Navelina: this variety belongs to the group of Navel oranges. In fact, there is a second, small fruit which develops inside the orange. This navel is small and sometimes is closed and not visible from the outside. Coming from California, the Navelina oranges are big, round or slightly elongated with an intense yellow-orange skin, which sometimes tends to red, medium thick and medium-fine grained. The flesh is orange, medium-grained, tasty and sugary; the Navelina orange is a quite juicy orange, completely seedless. The fruits ripen between the end of October and the beginning of November.
- Washington Navel: it is a variety of oranges also known with the name “Brazilian”, as this cultivar comes mainly from Bahia in Brazil. These oranges are the second most cultivated oranges in the world as to diffusion, after the variety Valencia. The Washington Navel oranges are big and round, slightly elongated; they ripen from mid-December until May. Typical characteristic of the Washington Navel variety, as for other Navel varieties, is the presence of a navel of different sizes, that can also be closed. The Washington Navel oranges are bigger than Navelina oranges; their skin is medium thick, intense orange and medium-fine grained. The juice content is high. The flesh is crunchy and tasty, but not too much acidic. The flesh colour varies according to the grade of ripeness, but is usually intense orange.
- Navelate: it is a variety of oranges whose fruits are medium-big (200 gr.), elongated and flattened at the extremities, with a small navel. The skin, which is not easy to remove, is light orange and uniform, with papillas on the surface and medium thick. The flesh is orange, soft and rough-grained, quite sweet and acid, very juicy (juice yield more than 30%) and completely seedless. These oranges are used both to be consumed and for the production of orange juice.
- Calabrese Ovale: the Calabrese Ovale is a typical Italian variety. The fruits are oval and have a slightly wrinkled base. It is a late-season orange (the latest among the blond varieties) and it can be found starting from March until May. It is more and more difficult to find this variety, but it is very appreciated for its excellent quality characteristics. The skin is thin and resistant, medium-fine grained and intense yellow-orange. The flesh is orange, tasty and sweet, with really few seeds. The juice yield is high, therefore the Calabrese Ovale is particularly suitable to be squeezed.
- Tarocco: it is a precious variety, usually seedless. It is available on the world fruit and vegetable market from mid-December until the end of May and is suitable to be consumed (the big oranges) and to be squeezed (the smaller oranges). The Tarocco oranges are the most appreciated and requested on the market. The fruit is oval with a large base and a slightly hollow apex. The skin is thin or medium-thin, yellow-orange tending to reddish on more than half the surface. The flesh is yellow-orange with more or less intense red hues. The flesh is fine-grained and scented and seedless. The Tarocco orange is medium sugary and not really sour. Their availability goes from mid-December until the end of May. They can be preserved even for two months at low temperatures and in environments with a good humidity level. The scent and the sweetness of the flesh, apart from the richness of the juice make this variety one of the most requested among the appraisers of the “pigmented oranges”.
- Newhall: its fruits are medium-big (150-220 gr.), oval or round, with an umbo. The skin can be light yellow to intense orange, with several papillas and medium thick. The flesh is orange, soft and rough-grained, quite sweet and acid, very juicy (juice yield more than 30%) and completely seedless. These oranges are used both to be consumed and for the production of orange juice.
- Thomson: it is a sun-yellow orange, elongated at the extremities seeming almost oval; the slices are quite rich in juice and when completely ripe are sweet and delicate. They ripen between February and April. Only calibers (diameters) 0 (92-110 mm) and 1 (87-100) are traded.
- Belladonna, whose fruit is medium-big (160-200 gr.), oval with an intense yellow, thick, fine-grained skin, which is adherent to the flesh. The flesh is orange, soft, juicy, tasty and with few seeds. These oranges are used both to be consumed and for the production of orange juice. The fruits ripen from mid-December to February-March. The fruit is really resistant when on the plant. The fruits are traded from the second decade of December to April. The harvesting is done manually.
Valencia: it the most cultivated variety of oranges in the world and quite widespread also in Italy. The fruits are round and have an orange medium-thin skin. It is a blond orange, with a yellow-orange flesh, medium-grained, very juicy and seedless. It is a really late-season orange: the harvesting begins in April, but can last until late June.