The orange originate in Southeast Asia, but they now thrive around the World in warm-climate areas including Portugal, Spain, North Africa and North America. The United States is the world's largest producer or oranges and they are grown mainly in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.
There are three basic types of orange: Sweet, bitter and loose-skinned.
Sweet oranges are generally large and have skins that are more difficult to remove than on loose-skinned oranges. They are usually very juicy, may have seeds or be seedless. The seedless Navel, the juicy Valencia and the Blood orange with red flesh are among the more popular types.
The bitter oranges are sour and astringent, and are usually used for cooking and not eaten raw. They are also valued for their peel and their essential oils, which are used to flavor foods as well as some orange liqueurs. Most of the bitter orange supply comes from Spain and some well-known types are the Seville and the Bergamot.
Loose-skinned oranges are named so because their skins easily slip off the fruit. Their segments are also loose and divide with ease. They vary in flavor from sweet to tart-sweet.
Fresh oranges are available year-round at different times, depending on the variety. When buying oranges, choose those that are firm and heavy for its size, with no mold or spongy spots. They can be stored at cool room temperature for a day or so, or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain some vitamin A. Once cut or squeezed the vitamin C quickly begins to dissipate, and after only 8 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the refrigerator more than 20 percent of the vitamin C is lost.
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