A good orange is the gift that keeps on giving. Oranges add brightness to the kitchen or dining table, spruce up anything from drinks to braises to cookies, and fill the room with their refreshing scent as soon as their peel is pierced. They are one of the most popular, available fruits in the world, common to many cultures, from China, where they likely originated, to the Mediterranean, South Africa, Mexico, and beyond. The United States is the second largest grower worldwide, with California and Florida leading production. Even right here in coastal and southern Georgia, we can grow fresh local oranges from December to March.
Types and Selection
Depending on the season, your average grocery store will usually carry Valencia or Navel oranges, both sweet varieties rather than sour. The best fruits tend to be firm, smooth, bright, and heavy; lighter oranges may be dried out. You may also find the sourer, pinkish Cara Cara oranges or blood oranges slightly later in the season. We encourage you to try these beautifully colored varieties in desserts, cocktails, and salads – a feast for the eyes and taste buds! If you don’t normally go for green salads, indulge your sweet tooth and master the art of segmenting oranges with our step-by-step guide to Ambrosia, an old-fashioned fruit salad.
Keep on Juicin’
Most Americans have probably had the good fortune of a delicious glass of fresh orange juice, but juice can also be used to flavor caramel, cakes, poaching liquids, mulled beverages, and frostings. Orange zest is also a great, easy savory ingredient for the home cook, bringing a tartness that takes on a caramelized, almost smoky taste when cooked into savory preparations. Both the juice and zest make powerful accents in salad dressings, pastas, marinades, and sauces, notably cranberry and tomato. You can even make your own citrus-y peach “honey” by boiling down the fruit and preserving it – a great gift idea - in cute little mason jars!
We know they are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as calcium and other important dietary minerals. They can also be used in fragrances and to alleviate a range of digestive and skin conditions.
So go buy a big bag and start experimenting with these recipes from the Paula Deen Kitchen:
Orange Glazed Ham Steak. Orange is grated and juiced for a sweet glaze.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a tasty marinade.
Orange, Strawberry and Date Salad Fresh oranges and strawberries complemented by shallots, tarragon, and buttermilk dressing.
Citrus Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing Citrus and poppy seed (a winning combo for a muffin, except healthier, with avocado and arugula)
And for dessert…
Fresh Fruit Pizza Oranges and other fruit lusciously laid out on sugar cookie dough!