Come winter, oranges will cure what ails you in the kitchen. Want a hint of sweetness? Add a little juice. Need a flavour lift? Stir in a little zest. Plus, orange slices, segment. Pulpy pieces can brighten just about any recipe, from savoury sauces to desserts. Orange season is now in full swing (it runs through June), meaning there’s no better time to make the most of the sunny, sweet citrus.
Not sure where to start? Matt McLean, founder and CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic, in Clermont, Fla., shares his orange expertise. In addition to choosing oranges at their peak ripeness, consider where they come from if you’re making juice, he says. “Florida oranges have a thinner peel and more juice per fruit because of Florida’s sub-tropical climate,” he explains. Thicker-skinned California oranges are ideal for eating out of hand because they're easier to peel. Use this guide to help you shop:
Peak Season: November to January
Characteristics: This pale varietal has a floral aroma and a high vitamin C content.
Peak Season: November to March
Characteristics: The namesake “navel” makes this classic easy to identify.
Cara Cara Navel
Peak Season: November to April
Characteristics: Red-fleshed navels have a distinctive flavour profile and antioxidant composition because of the red pigments.
Moro, Sanguinello (Blood Oranges)
Peak Season: December to February
Characteristics: Tart, red-fleshed blood oranges are spectacular in recipes and as juice.
Peak Season: January to March
Characteristics: “If you can get ’em, grab ’em,” says McLean, citing Florida Temple oranges as a sweet-tart option that’s great for juicing but can also be peeled like a tangerine.
Peak Season: February to April
Characteristics: Darker orange with a flavour somewhere between a Hamlin and a Valencia. Very seedy. A great juice orange.
Peak Season: April to June
Characteristics: First grown in California, the world’s most common orange variety is juicy and richly hued.
Must-try orange recipes: