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Oranges


Oranges

Varieties

The best known varieties are the Valencia, which originated on the Iberian Peninsula, and is an excellent juicing orange and well as a good eating orange. The best known eating orange is the navel, which thrives in the warm day/cool nights of southern California. Other varieties include the Hamlin, used mostly for juicing; blood oranges, known for their red pigment and sweet flavour; mandarins, the crown prince of the orange family; clementines, a cross between the mandarin and Seville; tangerines, actually a brightly coloured mandarin; among others.

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Storage

Oranges can either be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending upon your preference. They will generally last the same amount of time, two weeks with either method, and will retain nearly the same level of their vitamin content. The best way to store oranges is loose rather than wrapped in a plastic bag since if exposed to moisture, they can easily develop mold.

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Origins and Culture

Oranges originated thousands of years ago in Asia, in the region from southern China to Indonesia from which they spread to India. Although Renaissance paintings display oranges on the table in paintings of The Last Supper, the assumption that they were grown in this region at this time seems to be erroneous since oranges were not cultivated in the Middle East until sometime around the 9th century. Sweet oranges were introduced into Europe around the 15th century by various groups including the Moors, and the Portuguese as well as the Italian traders and explorers who found them on their voyages to Asia and the Middle East.
Orange trees began to be grown in the Caribbean Islands in the late 15th century after Christopher Columbus brought the seeds there on his second voyage to the New World. Spanish explorers are responsible for bringing oranges to Florida in the 16th century, while Spanish missionaries brought them to California in the 18th century, beginning the cultivation of this citrus fruit in the two states widely known for their oranges.
Before the 20th century, oranges were very expensive and therefore they were not regularly consumed, but rather eaten on special holidays such as Christmas.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

Oranges are best known for their vitamin C, but they also contain 7g of fibre, 21g of carbohydrates, 6% of the daily allowance for calcium and 2% for iron and vitamin A. A medium orange also contains 260mg of potassium. Studies have shown that a single orange with 40mg of vitamin C is a better cancer fighter than 1000mg of supplemental vitamin C, though both reduce the risk of cancer. The reason is that oranges also contain betacarotene, flavonoids, terpenes, carotenoids, and the antioxidant glutathione, all of them cancer-fighting substances.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Orange juice and zest can also be stored for later use. Place freshly squeezed orange juice in ice cube trays until frozen, and then store them in plastic bags in the freezer. Dried orange zest should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight glass container.

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