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Botanically; orange is the citrus fruit belonging in the Rutaceae family, of the genus; Citrus. The genus citrus also includes other related species of oranges such as pomelo, tangerine (mandarin orange), yuzu, lemon, and grapefruit. Scientific name: Citrus sinensis.

Orange is a tropical to semitropical, evergreen, small flowering tree, growing to about 5 to 8 m tall, and bears seasonal fruits that measure about 3 inches in diameter and weigh about 100-150 g. Oranges are classified into two general categories, sweet and bitter, with the former being the type most commonly consumed. Popular sweet-varieties include Valencia, Navel, Persian variety, and blood orange.

Tangerines are related varieties of oranges distinguished by loose, easily peeled shin (pericarp) and sweet juicy flesh (arils). They are also known as mandarin oranges in Europe and Satsumas in Japan. Just as oranges, these too belong to the Rutaceae (citrus Family) and known scientifically as Citrus reticulata.

Delicious and juicy orange fruit contains an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals for normal growth and development and overall well-being. Moro oranges are also called blood oranges because the pulp is bright red. Two most common varieties of oranges are Navel and Valencia oranges.

Selection and Storage

1. In the northern hemisphere orange fruit season begins in October and lasts until February.
2. The bigger the navel in an orange, the sweeter it will be.
3. Buy fresh fruits that are firm, yet yield to gentle pressure.
4. Fresh oranges have bright color, no wrinkles on the skin and feel heavy for their size.
5. Avoid overly soft oranges with spots and mold.
6. Oranges can be kept at room temperature for a week or so and but keep well for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Keep them loose in the fruit container and place in the cool area away from excessive moisture, as they tend to get mold easily.
7. Store freshly squeezed orange juice inside the freezer compartment for later use.
8. Store dried orange zest in a cool, dry place in an airtight glass container away from moisture.

Preparation and serving tips

You may carry orange fruit along with you wherever you go 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!

Remove skin after scoring superficially on the skin with your fingers or using a knife. Remove rind and fibers and gently peel off membranes and seeds. They are usually be eaten this way. They can also eaten by slicing the fruit horizontally into two halves and scooping out sections of the halves with a spoon.

Orange fruit juice is a well cherished drink all over the world. However, raw fruits are considered wholesome than their juice in terms of antioxidant benefits. Soluble and insoluble fiber content is also lessened to a great degree in the juice. 

If you wish to go for fresh orange juice, then prepare it yourself at home instead of commercial drinks that may contain preservatives and artificial colorants. Bring the fruit to room temperature if kept in the refrigerator.

Here are some Serving tips:

1. Orange fruit sections are a great addition to green ( also see here and here and here ) and fruit salads.

2. Orange fruit juice  (also see ) can be a re-freshening intra-day drink (also see ).

3. The fruit is also used in the preparation of desserts (also see here and here and here ), jamsmarmalade ( also see ) , and jellies.

4. Orange zest (peel) is also used in preparation of popular dishes for its rich flavor.

5. Dried orange blossoms and leaves are used as herbal tea.

6. Like lemon juice, orange juice can be sprinkled over cut fruits to slow oxidation or used as a flavoring with other fruits or vegetables and in salad dressings ( also see ), sauces  ( also see here and here ) and desserts.

7. Zest, the outermost layer of citrus peel, carries the fruit's essential oils. Grating the zest of an orange or paring it into slender strips transforms it into a colorful, aromatic garnish or potent seasoning and flavoring for everything from stir-fries to sorbet.

8. The concentrated aroma and flavor of dried peel is released by simmering it in soups, stews and braises or by adding it to the cooking water for rice, the poaching liquid for fruits, or the boiling water in which tea leaves will be steeped.

9. Dried peel is easily ground to a powder in a blender or food processor. The ground peel can be added to dry rubs for meats, fish and poultry. A pinch of ground peel is enough to flavor dough or batter for baked goods.

10. Even the pale, slippery seeds of the orange have their culinary purpose: After they have been soaked for a day or two in water to extract their flavor, the soaking liquid can be added to a kettle of hot marmalade to intensify the flavor of the preserves.

11. This North African-style braised chicken has a sauce flavored with orange, ginger and honey. As with most braised dishes, this one tastes best when made a day ahead and slowly reheated before serving. Serve it over steamed rice or couscous.

Health Benefits of Orange

1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Oranges are rich in citrus limonoids, proven to help fight a number of varieties of cancer including that of the skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.

2. Prevents Kidney Diseases
Drinking orange juice regularly prevents kidney diseases and reduces the risk of kidney stones. ( Note: drink juice in moderate amounts. The high sugar content of fruit juices can cause tooth decay and the high acid content can wear away enamel if consumed in excess.)

3. Reduces Risk of Liver Cancer 
According to two studies in Japan eating mandarin oranges reduces liver cancer. This may be due in part to vitamin A compounds known as carotenoids. 

4. Lowers Cholesterol
Since they’re full of soluble fiber, oranges are helpful in lowering cholesterol.

5. Boosts Heart Health
Oranges are full of potassium, an electrolyte mineral is responsible for helping the heart function well. When potassium levels get too low, you may develop an abnormal heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia.

6. Lowers Risk of Disease
Oranges are full of vitamin C which protects cells by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.

7. Fights Against Viral Infections 
Studies show that the abundance of polyphenols in oranges protects against viral infections.

8. Relieves Constipation
Oranges are full of dietary fiber which stimulates digestive juices and relieves constipation.

9. Helps Create Good Vision
Oranges are rich in carotenoid compounds which are converted to vitamin A and help prevent macular degeneration.

10. Regulates High Blood Pressure
The flavonoid hesperidin found in oranges helps regulate high blood pressure and the magnesium in oranges helps maintain blood pressure.

11. Protects Skin
Oranges are full of beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant protecting the cells from being damage which also protects the skin from free radicals and prevents the signs of aging.

12. Oranges Alkalize the Body
Although oranges are acidic before you digest them, they contain many alkaline minerals that help to balance out the body after they are digested. In this respect, they are similar to lemons which are one of the most alkaline foods available.

13.  Provides Smart Carbs:
Oranges like all fruits have simple sugars in them, but the orange has a glycemic index of 40.  Anything under 55 is considered low. This means as long as you don’t eat a lot of oranges at one time, they won’t spike your blood sugar and cause problems with insulin or weight gain.

Interesting Orange Facts:

1. Oranges are the largest citrus crop in the world.
2. Brazil produces more oranges than any other country.
3. Navel Oranges are named after the belly button shape near the bottom!
4. About 25 billion oranges are grown each year in America.
5. In the 18th Century British sailors took sauerkraut and citrus fruits on the ships to prevent scurvy.
6. Florida produces about 70 percent of the total U.S. crop, and 90 percent of its production goes to make juice.
7. In Queen Victoria’s day, oranges were given as Christmas gifts in England.
8. Did you know that the color orange came from the orange fruit?
9. Two most common varieties of oranges are Navel and Valencia oranges.
10. Orange is the world’s third favorite flavor after chocolate and vanilla.

Read More at Wikipedia.
Recipe using orange fruit, zest, oil see Here and Here and Here.

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