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Top 5 Foods With Surprising Qualities: Oranges Part II

Updated on January 30, 2010

Orange Varieties

Blood oranges
Blood oranges are most famous in Europe but are gaining popularity among North American consumers. These oranges are characterized by their red flesh and delicious flavor with berry overtones. Because blood oranges are less acidic than other oranges, they are great in salads and make wonderful snacks.
Selection: Blood oranges are a small-to-medium-size orange. On the outside, blood oranges are orange, not red. You'll find blood oranges in the markets from mid-December through March.

Clementines are tiny Chinese mandarins crossed with sweet oranges. They are imported from Spain, Morocco and North Africa. Because of their small size and seedless, sweet tangy flesh, clementines are best eaten as a snack or tossed whole into salads.
Selection: Clementines typically have a thin rind and are reddish orange in color. You'll find clementines in the market from November through April.

Mineolas are reddish in color and a bit larger than their tangelo cousins. They're very sweet, seedless and easy to peel. Although mineolas are not marketed as juicing oranges, farmers in Florida have been known to use them for juice. They are also terrific for eating fresh.
Selection: Mineolas are easily recognized by the knoblike formation where the stem was attached. The rind of the mineola has a pebbly quality to it. Look for mineolas from December through March. Their peak season falls sometime around January.

Tangelos are a cross between a tangerine and a pomelo, an ancestor of the grapefruit. Because of its grapefruit ancestry, tangelos are very large. But don't let their pedigree fool you; they have a taste all their own. Tangelos have a high juice content, a semisweet flavor and they peel easily since they make a perfect fruit for juicing or snacking. Tangelos contain seeds, so you may want to remove them before juicing.
Selection: Early-season tangelos are bronze in color and tend to have a flattened shape. As the season progresses, they round out and become a deeper orange color. Avoid tangelos with puffy rinds. Purchase only tangelos with a hard, shiny and thick skin. The season for tangelos usually lasts from December through March.

Tangerines are probably the most well known of the mandarin oranges. Although they have 60 percent less vitamin C per cup than Valencia oranges, tangerines are an excellent source of vitamin A. In fact, one large tangerine contains nearly 20 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A. Tangerines have a distinctive, slightly tart flavor. They're perfect for cooking, juicing and snacking. Tangerines are the most perishable of all oranges. They spoil quickly at room temperature, so keep them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They will keep for up to 1 week.
Selection: Tangerines are deep orange and more flat than perfectly round. Their skin is loose-fitting, thick and pebbly. Look for tangerines from January through March.

Hailing from southern Asia, Valencia oranges were brought to the West Indies by Christopher Columbus. They were then brought to Florida, where, to this day, most Valencia oranges are grown for North American consumption. Valencias are primarily used for juice, but they're an excellent all-purpose orange for snacking, desserts and salads. Valencia oranges have seeds, so be sure to remove them when serving prepared dishes.
Selection: Valencia oranges are a medium-to-large-size orange and are best described as oblong, as opposed to round. They become golden orange in color at the peak of ripeness. Look for oranges that have thin, smooth, finely textured skin. Valencia oranges are available from February through October, with peak season in May, June and July.

Continued In Top 5 Foods With Surprising Qualities: Winter Squash


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