How The Valencia Became America's Favorite Orange
Although it was named after a city in Spain, the Valencia Orange was actually made in America. One of the most widely cultivated fruits on Earth, it was developed by William Wolfskill, a California land developer, in the middle of the 19th century. A hybrid fruit, it was a cross between a local orange variety and a sweet orange from Spain; hence it's name. The Valencia orange is now the most popular juicing fruit in North America. Why juice?
For obvious reasons, fresh fruit lovers prefer seedless oranges to seeded ones. The Valencia has an inconsistent number of seeds that varies from zero to seven per orange. Furthermore, it is the only major orange variety that is season during the summer months, which is the best time to make OJ. Fruit growers that harvest Valencias seldom have to worry about tempestuous weather patterns that can wipe out entire crops, since the commercial harvest season run from March to June–which are generally pleasant, balmy months in most citrus-producing states.
Where they're grown
As we mentioned, they started out in California, but Valencias are actually more popular in Florida and in some parts of Texas these days. The reason? These areas have wetter, more humid weather, which actually finds its way into the orange. In other words, the oranges from these locales yield more fresh juice, making them perfect for juicing fruits. And since Americans enjoy fruit juices more than fresh fruit, the Valencia is the current king of the citrus world.
Does anybody eat them?
About half of the entire citrus crop in Florida is made up of Valencia Oranges. Also, since about 90 percent of all Florida oranges are sent to processing plants for juicing, they are not particularly common eating oranges. On a national basis, only about twenty percent of the total Valencia crop is sold as whole fruit, with the remainder being used to make OJ, extracts, and fruit preserves. Of course, if you choose to eat them, Valencias are every bit as healthy and salubrious as more popular eating oranges they're just a bit tougher to peel.
Where to find them?
Whether you want to enjoy them in their natural form or use them to make freshly squeezed OJ, Valencias can be hard to find with their peels still on. The reason? As we mentioned, almost all of them are juiced and sold in bottles and cartons. That is why it may be necessary to purchase them directly from commercial sellers on the Internet. The good news is that they are fairly inexpensive and easy to find, since huge crops of them are grown each season. Just make sure you order this popular summer orange before March to get the pick of the proverbial litter.