Harvest of the Month: Oranges
While the U.S. leads the world in orange production, the orange tree is not native to North America. It is believed that it was first cultivated in Asia thousands of years ago, and to have ridden on trade routes to Europe, where it became a favorite treat by the mid-17th century. It took about another 100 years for the fruit to be delivered to American shores, and it was in the late 1800s that seeds were first delivered to Florida, which now leads the nation – and the world – in orange production.
Today, the orange tree is the most common fruit tree in the world. The U.S. produces the bulk of the world orange supply, with Brazil, Spain, Japan, and Mexico rounding out the top five producers.
Popular because they deliver fresh flavors and countless health benefits, oranges are of course best when they’re freshest. Choose the freshest ones from your produce market or grocery store by following three quick steps:
- Look: Pick ones with bright color and mostly smooth skins. A few blemishes are fine, but watch out for mold or signs of distress.
- Squeeze: Choose firm fruits that don’t feel squishy or have bruises.
- Weigh: Feel the weight of the orange in your hand. If it feels too light for its size, it won’t be very juicy.
Fresh oranges can be stored at room temperature for about a week or for about two weeks in a refrigerator.
Try oranges in this unique recipe: Orange Loaf