Pittman & Davis: Navel Orange Facts
You’ve probably enjoyed navel oranges from childhood on up, but there are a lot of interesting facts about this citrus powerhouse you may not know. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about the classic navel orange:
What is a navel orange?
Navel oranges belong to the citrus family. They are a winter variety that grows on evergreen trees that can reach over six meters in height. They are also known as the Washington Navel Orange, Riverside Navel Orange, and Bahia Navel Orange. There are over fifty different varieties of navel orange. Navel oranges are predominately favored for fresh eating, and are also used by chefs and home cooks for adding zest, flavoring sauces and garnish.
Do navel oranges have seeds? If so, how do they reproduce?
Because navel oranges are seedless, they must be grown through grafting. All navel orange trees are genetically identical clones of the original fruit discovered on the grounds of a Brazilian monastery in 1820, where the first fruits spontaneously appeared on a seeded orange tree. What makes the navel orange unique is the small hole (or navel) at the blossom end of the fruit. A second, undeveloped fruit grows in this navel of the larger fruit.
What’s a navel like in appearance?
Navel oranges are medium to large in size, averaging 6-10 centimeters in diameter, and are globular to slightly oval in shape with the trademark “navel” or circular hole on the blossom stem end. The medium-thick rind matures from green to bright orange and is smooth with a pebbled texture due to many oil glands found across the surface. Underneath the outer layer of the rind, the white pith clings to the flesh, but is easily peeled and has a spongy texture. The pale, yellow-orange flesh is juicy, tender, seedless, and divided into 10-12 segments by thin membranes.
How do navel oranges taste?
Navel oranges are aromatic, sweet, and contain a low-acidity, which produces a balanced level of sweet, tangy, and tart flavors. (The Cara Cara Navel, also known as the red navel orange, is a notable exception in that its levels of the antioxidant lycopene cause the sweet flavor to be predominant.) In a navel orange, size of the trademark “navel” at the blossom-end of the fruit indicates the sweetness, i.e. the larger the navel, the sweeter the orange.
When are navel oranges in season?
Known mostly as a winter orange, navel oranges are available in the winter through the spring (depending on the variety).
Why is the classic navel orange known as a Washington navel?
What is the nutritional value of a navel orange?
>Navel orange nutrition is significant, with each fruit serving as an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and thiamin as well as potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotene and calcium. Regularly including navel oranges in your diet may help protect you against heart disease, cancer and diabetes while also helping to improve memory, blood pressure, immune system and overall health. In a typical navel orange, calories come out to just 69 per serving, while there are 17.5g of carbs in a navel orange.
If you’re in the mood for an orange, the sweet, seedless, easy-to-peel navel is always a classic. Perfect for eating out of hand and not too drippy, this tangy-sweet snack sections up beautifully and also works in many recipes. No wonder it’s one of the most popular orange varieties in the world!