Local Citrus – Oranges


As you will know it is citrus central in the Bellinger Valley. Almost perfect growing conditions means so much fruit and so many varieties – so we are going to focus on one at a time! This month…. Oranges .

The orange (usually the sweet orange) is the fruit of the citrus species. The orange is an old fruit – in fact oranges were mentioned in Chinese literature in 314 BC. They are also popular – orange trees have been found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world. The trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates (such as the Bellinger valley) for their sweet fruit. The fruit of the orange tree can be eaten fresh, or processed for its juice or fragrant peel.

There are a few varieties popular in our local area:

Valencia Oranges : The Valencia orange is a late-season fruit, and therefore a popular variety when navel oranges are out of season. It was first hybridized by pioneer American agronomist and land developer William Wolfskill in the mid-19th century on his farm in Santa Ana in southern California in the United States. Primarily grown for processing and orange juice production, Valencia oranges have seeds, varying in number from zero to seven per fruit. Its excellent taste and internal color make it desirable for the fresh fruit markets, too.

Navel Oranges: Navel oranges are characterized by the growth of a second fruit at the apex, which protrudes slightly and resembles a human navel. They are primarily grown for human consumption for various reasons: their thicker skin makes them easy to peel, they are less juicy and their bitterness – a result of the high concentrations of limonin and other limonoids – renders them less suitable for juice. Their widespread distribution and long growing season have made navel oranges very popular.

Seville Orange: The Seville orange (or bigarade) is a widely known, particularly tart orange which is now grown throughout the Mediterranean region. It has a thick, dimpled skin, and is prized for making marmalade, being higher in pectin than the sweet orange, and therefore giving a better set and a higher yield. It is also used in compotes and for orange-flavoured liqueurs.

Madarine: The mandarin (Citrus reticulata) or mandarine, is a small citrus tree with fruit resembling other oranges. Mandarins are usually eaten plain or in fruit salads. Specifically reddish-orange mandarin cultivars can be marketed as tangerines, but this is not a botanical classification. Like all citrus fruit, mandarins hybridize readily with other citrus. Many fruit sold as mandarins are in fact hybrids with some pummelo ancestry.

Tangerine: The tangerine (Citrus tangerina) is an orange-colored citrus fruit that is closely related to, or possibly a type of, mandarin orange. The name was first used for fruit coming from Tangier, Morocco, described as a mandarin variety. Tangerines are smaller than common oranges, and are usually easier to peel and to split into segments. The taste is considered less sour, as well as sweeter and stronger, than that of an orange. A ripe tangerine is firm to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned with no deep grooves, as well as orange in colour.

Satsuma: The satsuma is one of the sweetest citrus varieties, and is usually seedless. One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling – great for growing or purchasing locally rather than buying fruit in the supermarket from far away.

Tangelo: The tangelo is a citrus fruit hybrid of tangerine and pomelo or grapefruit. Sometimes referred to as honeybells, tangelos are the size of an adult fist, have a tangerine taste, and are juicy at the expense of flesh. They generally have loose skin and are easier to peel than oranges, readily distinguished from them by a characteristic “nipple” at the stem. Tangelos can be used anywhere as a substitute for mandarin oranges or sweet oranges.

There are many many other varieties of oranges grown across our region – if you know of one you would like to see added to this list please let us know 🙂