Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
Prairie Fare: A Taste of Sunshine
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
Iíll always remember a basic food preparation course I took. We were studying citrus fruits, and our assignment was to section an orange. I carefully worked to remove the fibrous membrane from around the orange sections while keeping the sections intact. The longer I worked, the less the orange resembled a fruit. In fact, by the time I had finished, it looked more like it had spent time in a food processor.
Oranges add a taste of sunshine to gray days and provide color and nutrition to your menu. Navel oranges, named for their puckered "navel" at the blossom end, are a popular variety because they are seedless and fairly easy to peel. Valencia oranges are thin-skinned, very juicy, often lighter orange in color and may contain seeds. Valencia oranges may be slightly green despite being fully ripe. A less common variety in the U.S., the blood orange, is named as such because of its reddish peel and interior. Blood oranges are often more tangy.
Oranges are believed to have originated in Asia, most likely China. In early Europe, oranges werenít necessarily thought of as food. The evergreen-like trees were used to beautify landscapes, and the flowers and fruits were used as ornaments. Today oranges are widely available in fresh fruit and as frozen concentrates for making juice. Juice by-products, such as the pulp and seeds, are used for animal feed in addition to flavorings, soaps and other products.
There are many good reasons to add oranges or orange juice to your diet. A medium orange contains about 70 calories, no fat and 130 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. A medium-size orange, about the size of a tennis ball, counts as a serving of fruit. Three-fourths cup of 100 percent orange juice also counts as a fruit serving on your way to five total servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Antioxidants like vitamin C are believed to protect the human body from "free radicals," harmful chemicals in the body, which may promote the development of cancer and other illnesses.
Oranges are also a good source of folate (the naturally occurring form of the B vitamin folic acid), which has been shown to reduce the risk for birth defects like spina bifida. Oranges also provide fiber in the diet, particularly "soluble" fiber, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer when consumed in combination with a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
When selecting oranges at the grocery store, look for heavy fruit in relation to size and avoid fruits that have damaged skin or signs of mold. As with any fruit and vegetables, wash oranges thoroughly with plenty of water and no soap. At home, oranges are best stored in the refrigerator unless they are to be consumed within a few days of purchase.
Best of all, you donít have to be able to section oranges to enjoy them. Hereís a tasty recipe from Sunkist Growers, Inc. that appeared on the http://aboutproduce.com website.