Orange is a popular citrus fruit from the family of Rutaceae and scientifically name as Citrus sinensis. It is a very delectable pulpy fruit belongs to the genus citrus, the other famous members which includes the lemon, lime and grapefruit.
Orange is a tropical to semitropical, evergreen, small flowering tree growing to about 5 – 8 m tall and bears seasonal fruits that measure about 3 inches in diameter and weighing about 100-150 g. They are classified into two variety the sweet and bitter while the sweet variety is most popularly consumed. Few of the popular varieties are the Valencia, Navel, Persian variety and blood orange.
Fruits belonging to citrus group are described as “hesperidium”, a hesperidium is a scientific term to describe the fruit structure belonging to citrus group. In fact, the fruit is a modified berry with tough, leathery rind. Orange peel contains many volatile oil glands in pits and the interior flesh is composed of segments, called carpels, made of numerous fluid-filled vesicles that are actually specialized hair cells.
The orange fruit is covered with a bright yellow to orange colored skin known as the epicarp and a thick, spongy mesocarp that lies beneath the epicarp. The internal part is called the pulp, which is divided into several individual segments that contain the actual pulp and the juicy fruit. Orange plant is said to be native of Southeast Asia mainly the southeast and northeast of India. Since ages back almost about 7000 years ago, different varieties of oranges were grown in both the regions of India. The fruit is used in various dishes as it imparts an excellent flavor. Many historians are of the opinion that it was grown in the orchards of China by the beginning of the 1st century millennium.
History states that Romans were the first to taste this juicy fruit among the Europeans. It reached the Roman Empire around the 1st century BC. The Persian traders who had trade relations with India and Ceylon introduced this fruit to the Roman Empire. It became quite popular among the nobility and military classes of the empire. The Romans developed the first orchard of oranges in North Africa, in around the 1st century AD. The oranges grown in North Africa were mainly supplied across the Mediterranean. Today, the South American country, Brazil, is the leading producer of oranges, Sao Paulo being the main center of production. Brazil accounts for almost half of the world’s total production of oranges.
Sweet orange trees were brought to Italy, Spain and Portugal from India in the fifteenth century (1400s). Before that time only sour oranges were grown in Italy. From Europe, orange trees were taken to the United States, South America, Africa and Australia, which all grow oranges for sale. Traditionally orange trees are considered to be a symbol of love and marriage in many cultures. They are found in Renaissance painting of married couples. Queen Victoria was given a coronet of gold and enamel orange blossoms by her husband Albert. When their children were born, he had a jeweler add tiny green oranges to the coronet. Orange peel can be dried and treated with sugar. It is an ingredient in Christmas cakes.
Orange fruit season begins from October and lasts till February. Mature fruits are usually harvested from the trees. Fresh oranges have bright color, devoid of any wrinkles on the skin, should feel heavy for their size and emanate sweet aroma. Oranges can be kept at room temperature for a week or so and but keep well for up to two weeks in the fruit/vegetable compartment of the home refrigerator. Orange fruit can be carried to any place without much cumbersome. Fresh oranges can be eaten at anytime, anywhere; just wash them under running water to remove surface dirt and any pesticide residues, peel the skin and enjoy!
Orange fruit juice is also as much popular as raw ones; however, use raw fruits instead of juice for the maximum benefit of antioxidants. Fiber content in the fruit is also lessened to a great degree in the juice. Preparing the orange juice at home fresh is an excellent way to avoid from the commercial drinks that contain preservatives and artificial colorants. The outermost part of the rind grated using zester to produce orange zest, which also have many culinary values for its flavor rich oil glands.
A variety of refreshing juices could be made of Orange fruit and is a great addition to the fruit salads. Orange fruit is also used in preparing of desserts, jam and jellies. Orange zest or orange peel is also used in preparation of various dishes for its rich flavor and is used in making the marmalade.
Oranges are a very good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C. Orange juice is an important part of many people’s breakfast. The “sweet orange”, which is the kind that is most often eaten today, grew first in Asia but now grows in many parts of the world. Oranges are an important food source in many parts of the world for several reasons. The juice is a refreshing and cooling drink. They last longer than many other fruits when they are stored. They are easy to transport because each orange comes in its own tough skin which acts as a container. Delicious and juicy orange fruit contains an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for normal growth and development and overall well-being.
Oranges are of the most sought after fruits of the world, not only for its great taste but also for its nutritional value. It is a rich source of vitamin C, ascorbic acid, folic acid, vitamin B6, flavonoids, pectin and dietary fiber. Besides, it also contains a significant amount of minerals like potassium salt, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, etc. Orange does not contain harmful cholesterol and fats. It can be of immense help in many ailments like high blood pressure, hardening of arteries, constipation, heart disease and stomach ulcer. Besides, it contains antioxidants, which are effective in protecting the body from harmful free radicals. So, the regular consumption of this nutritious fruit will definitely help you to remain healthy and fit.
Nutrients in oranges are plentiful and diverse. The fruit is low in calories, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in dietary fiber, pectin, which is very effective in persons with excess body weight. Oranges also contain very good levels of vitamin A. It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, pyridoxine and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. Orange fruit also contains a very good amount of minerals like potassium and calcium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
The nutritional value per 100 g of fresh Oranges are:
Energy: 47 Kcal
Carbohydrates: 11.75 g
Protein: 0.94 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Dietary Fiber: 2.40 g
Potassium: 169 mg
Calcium: 40 mg
Vitamin C: 53.2 MG