What Makes Each of These 13 Orange Varieties Special

What Makes Each of These 13 Orange Varieties Special?

Isn’t it true that an orange is an orange? No, not in the traditional sense. While it’s tempting to grab any old orange from the grocery store or a bottle of orange juice and assume all fruit is the same, there are really quite a few different orange kinds, each with its own set of advantages and distinctive qualities.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the term “orange” refers to a number of distinct kinds of citrus fruit belonging to the Citrus Rutaceae family, which also contains other citrus fruits such as limes, lemons, and grapefruits. In addition to being known as a “orange,” the sweet, common orange that most people are familiar with is also known as the China orange (though you’ve probably never heard it referred to as such). Citrus oranges were originally grown in tropical Asia, but the cultivation of oranges migrated from the Malay Archipelago to India and Africa, then to the Mediterranean, and finally to North America and your fruit bowl.

But what if you’re looking for something a little more unique than the “typical” orange? What if you’re looking for something a bit different? Mandarins and navels, clementines and blood oranges are all recognisable fruits, but there are a few additional orange types that you may not be acquainted with, as well as the characteristics that distinguish each one from the others.

Blood Oranges 

In terms of orange types, blood oranges are one of the most readily recognised and distinctive. The crimson, bright colour of the fruit inside gives it away very immediately. Blood oranges, which are mostly grown in California and Florida, have become more popular on menus and in recipes; where you would have seen a mandarin orange from a can as a youngster, you’ll now see a fashionable blood orange.

When it comes down to it, anthocyanin is simply a fancy name for a colour pigment that develops as a result of weather patterns, which is what gives blood oranges their vibrant red hue in the first place. Blood oranges are believed to be sweeter and contain fewer seeds when compared to other orange kinds. However, since their growing season is relatively short, they are more costly and in high demand. Blood oranges may be found in salads and on cakes, in cocktails, and even in sparkling water, to name a few applications. The taste, on the other hand, maybe highly divisive, as one Trader Joe’s blood orange cake mix with frosting demonstrated via social media. 

Cara Cara Oranges

You may not be as acquainted with Cara Cara oranges as you are with blood oranges, and you might not be able to tell the difference between the two at first glance. Cara Cara oranges are a relatively new variety that initially emerged in the 1970s at the Venezuelan hacienda Cara Cara, where they are being grown today. Because they’re a hybrid between two different orange species, Cara Cara oranges are harvested in the middle of winter and, like blood oranges, have a limited growing season, making them in great demand and hence somewhat more expensive than your regular common orange. Cara Cara oranges provide 20 per cent more vitamin C and 30 per cent more vitamin A than navel oranges, making them a healthier alternative to navel oranges. However, since they’re almost identical in form and size, it may be easy to confuse your Cara Cara oranges with your navel oranges; however, after you cut into both, you’ll see that the Cara Cara orange is a bit more similar in colour and flavour to a blood orange (though not as alarmingly bright).

Mandarin Oranges 

You’re probably familiar with mandarin oranges. For decades, these little devils have been making appearances in potluck salads and jello rings. When you were in primary school, you probably ate them out of a little plastic cup that had been pre-packaged, or you could have eaten them directly from the can at home. However, since mandarin oranges are more often seen canned rather than fresh, the majority of us are more likely to recognise their inside than their skin. Mandarin oranges are normally seedless and petite, and they may fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, making them a convenient, simple, and portable snack, particularly for youngsters.

However, although the terms “mandarin orange,” “tangerine,” and “clementine” are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to three distinct types of citrus fruits. More to the point, mandarin oranges are not really oranges, despite their membership in the citrus family, making the term “mandarin oranges” a bit of a misnomer in the first place.

Fresh mandarin oranges are a popular choice for rapid additions to desserts and salads because of their seedless interior, the ease with which they can be divided into segments, and the ease with which they can be peeled.


However, S&J Mandarin Grove simplifies matters by stating that although the names “tangerine” and “mandarin” are interchangeable, the terms “tangerine” and “mandarin” are not interchangeable. Tangerines are the same as mandarins, but not all mandarins are tangerines, in the same way as all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon A representative from the manufacturer notes that the name “mandarin” may refer to a broader set of fruits that come under its umbrella definition. If you’re looking for a tangerine, go for one that’s brilliant orange and sour, rather than the classic mandarin. Tangerines are also more difficult to peel than mandarins since they have a higher acidity. Tangerines have also been used to produce even more citrus varieties, including the Temple Orange, which is a cross between a tangerine and a textbook mandarin, and the Minneola Tangelo, which is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. Tangerines have also been used to produce even more citrus varieties, including the Temple Orange, which is a cross between a tangerine and a textbook mandarin, and the Minneola Tan

Tangerines, by whatever name you choose to call them, provide a sense of summery sweetness and childhood memories for many people who eat this unusual citrus fruit.


So, what exactly is the distinction between clementines and other citrus fruits such as mandarins and tangerines? In the same way that all tangerines are mandarins, the experts at S&J Mandarin Grove assert that not all clementines are mandarins and that not all mandarins are clementines. Clementines are the tiniest of all the fruits in the mandarin family, and they are also the most expensive. They’re wonderfully sweet, sparkly, and tasty, and they’re seedless and vibrantly coloured on the inside and the outside as well. Cuties are a famous grocery store brand name for clementines, and you may be more familiar with this term than with the fruit itself. Because of their added sweetness, clementines are particularly popular among youngsters and adults seeking a healthy sweet treat; nonetheless, you should be cautious about how many clementines you consume.

While those Cuties may be consumed in a short period of time, consuming an excessive amount of acidic orange fruits might be harmful to your health. When consumed in large quantities, the acidic content may cause digestive troubles, particularly in people who already suffer from acid reflux, and the additional potassium content can result in further health problems.


A tangelo is a fruit that is a hybrid of grapefruit and tangerine. On the exterior, they resemble an orange, but they have a distinctive rough nub on one end that distinguishes them. Despite the fact that there are a few distinct subspecies of tangelos that blend many different kinds of grapefruits and tangerines, they all have the acidity of grapefruit and the sweetness of tangerine as their primary taste characteristics, and they are all delicious. They are very adaptable and may be used almost anyplace that a regular orange would be.

Please keep in mind that a sub-species of tangelo oranges is known by a completely another name that you may be familiar with: Ugli fruit, sometimes known as the Jamaican tangelo. The ugli fruit, which is a registered and trademarked term, is significantly distinct in appearance from its normal tangelo relatives, with its colours leaning more toward yellow and green than orange. As reported by the firm that owns the Ugli variety, this specific form of tangelo was found growing wild in Jamaica less than a century ago, where it is said to have developed as the result of natural crossbreeding between a Seville orange, grapefruit, and tangerine.

 Seville Oranges

Because of their taste, Seville oranges are one of the most distinctive oranges you’ll come across. Seville oranges, which are also known as sour oranges or bitter oranges, are not sweet in the least. As a result, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many people who prefer eating the oranges raw while they’re in season. It is instead utilised in other recipes like English marmalade, which calls for the juice, rind, and zest of the orange. The high pectin content of the oranges aids in the natural setting of the marmalade, and the sour taste of the oranges contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the marmalade.

Unfortunately, Seville oranges are not readily available in most places. It would be preferable if you looked for them in your local health food shop or foreign grocery store instead. Look for them under all of their numerous monikers to ensure you don’t miss them. If all else fails and you are unable to locate a Seville orange for use in a dish that asks for one, The Spruce Eats recommends recreating the taste by combining equal parts orange and lime juice with a drop of vinegar, according to the website.

Navel Oranges

Although navel oranges may be confused with both Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges, there are a few important distinctions between the two types of oranges. A second, underdeveloped fruit is revealed when the skin is removed off this immensely popular orange, which is known after the belly button-like hole that appears when the peel is peeled. Navel oranges, which were brought to the United States from Brazil in the late 1800s, are available in a wide variety of variations, with up to 50 distinct kinds of navel oranges being cultivated in locations ranging from Florida to California to Washington to Brazil and beyond. Navel oranges, which are naturally seedless, are popular for eating fresh and for utilising in recipes, but they are not as popular for juicing.

When compared to Cara Cara oranges, navel oranges have a milder flavour, but they are still delicious and are often more yellow-orange in colour on the interior than Cara Cara oranges. This tint varies from the crimson colour of blood oranges, as well as the fact that they are harvested at different times of the year. In addition, navel oranges have a higher concentration of vitamin C.

Valencia Oranges 

Valencia oranges are closely related to Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, and navel oranges, yet they are distinct in their own way. Valencia oranges are available year-round. In appearance, a Valencia orange is similar to the textbook picture of what you’d expect a basic orange to look like: medium-sized, vivid orange on the interior and exterior, with little to no yellow or pink colouration on the outside. It is possible to observe a few spots of green throughout the ripening process, but these are the only colour differences you will notice. The main reason for this is that they don’t contain limonin, a chemical that gives other citrus liquids a bitter taste. They’re also the most common form of orange utilised for orange juice production. The fact that they are so versatile in the kitchen makes them particularly well-suited for baking and cooking, and they are often served with pork or chocolate. Additionally, Valencia oranges are widely available and may be used in any recipe that does not require a specific kind of orange to be used.

Valencia oranges are about as common and popular as it gets when it comes to common sweet oranges, which is to say they’re the most common and popular.

 Satsuma Oranges 

Satsuma oranges are related to tangerines and clementines, and they are another of those oranges that are both a mandarin and yet is not a mandarin at the same time. Satama oranges, named after a former Japanese region, are believed to have been farmed as early as the 1500s before being introduced to Florida in the late 1800s. Satsuma oranges are a kind of citrus fruit that is native to Japan. Today, California is the primary producer of Satsuma oranges in the United States.

While Satsuma oranges are similar in look and size to both tangerines and clementines, the sweet-tart Satsumas distinguish themselves in two important ways: they contain far more juice and contain significantly less pulp. Oranges filled to the gills with juice and as little pulp as possible will appeal to those who enjoy a juicy orange with as little pulp as possible. Unfortunately, because of their seasonality, Satsumas may be difficult to come by, and they are most popular during the winter months.

Is it possible that you have never had a Satsuma before? While you may not have had the pleasure of tasting one of these fruits fresh, you may have consumed them without recognising it since they are often canned and marketed as just mandarins rather than by their proper names.

Jaffa Oranges

It was in the 1800s that Jaffa oranges were first cultivated in what is now Israel, and they were soon documented in western historical archives as well. Even Queen Victoria savoured the odd Jaffa orange from time to time (via Tablet Magazine). It wasn’t long before the oranges, which were widely appreciated for their superior quality, were being carried to England in large quantities, with roughly 20,000 cases every orange season, each containing up to 150 oranges.

Because more cheap orange cultivars are now accessible in England, oranges are becoming less popular in the country. While the English celebrate their beloved Jaffa oranges in many ways, the Jaffa cake is one such example. It consists of a circular orange cake with a jammy layer between the sponge and a layer of chocolate that has been flavoured with tangerine oil. Additionally, there are English legends circulating about Richard the Lionheart introducing Jaffa oranges to the country, albeit this is very unlikely considering that he lived in the 1100s and the oranges weren’t produced until the 1800s.

Trifoliate Oranges

Trifoliate oranges are not, as you would imagine, some bizarre orange-lemon-grapefruit hybrid that some agricultural enterpriser decided to produce one day on a whim. Instead, it is one of the hardiest members of the orange family, and it can survive in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tall, shrubby trees, which were originally grown in China and North Korea, produce small, egg-shaped fruits with thick, yellow exteriors that are originally grown in China and North Korea. When eaten raw, the taste is lemony and acidic, and the fruit is widely believed to be inedible, yet it is delicious when cooked or used medicinally. One recipe playfully proposes mixing one raw trifoliate orange with one barrel of sugar and one barrel of water to produce an edible version of trifoliate orange lemonade. Jams and jellies are two of the most popular culinary applications. In medicine, it is used to treat inflammation, nausea, and allergies, among other things. Some experts, however, warn that if these oranges are consumed in excessive numbers, the high acidity may induce stomach discomfort, nausea, or skin irritation. As a result, some people choose to utilise the trees only for ornamental landscaping purposes. In addition, the fruit has little real fruit and is mostly composed of seeds.


You may have heard of bergamots in connection with tea; it is used to flavour the Earl Grey kind, which is popular in the United Kingdom. However, despite the fact that the name is well-known, you are unlikely to identify bergamot on sight. The fruit does not resemble a typical orange in any way. Bergamot oranges, which are light green on the exterior and yellow to green on the interior, have a tart and spicy flavour. The essential oils extracted from the rind of the fruit are utilised in Earl Grey tea, as well as cosmetics and beauty goods, among other things.

Much like the trifoliate orange, however, this is one citrus fruit you won’t want to consume on its own. The bergamot is shockingly sour when it is first picked, therefore the essential oils are reserved for the most part. In addition to being used to flavour tea, essential oils may be utilised to relieve stress, anxiety, sadness, digestion, and pain. It’s extremely rare to come across bergamot fruit in its whole form at a grocery store or farmers market, but if you do, Bon Appétit recommends using the zest in baking or cocktails, or the juice in any cocktail that would normally call for grapefruit, lemon, or lime juice, according to the publication.

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