Valencia oranges are a summer orange with thin, golden-orange skin and sweet, juicy fruit. They can be used in cooking, in salads, desserts, and sauces, and for making orange juice, as well as for snacking on raw.
What Are Valencia Oranges?
Valencia oranges are a summer cultivar of the species Citrus sinensis, which also includes Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, and navel oranges. Valencia oranges are round to slightly oval, three to four inches in diameter, with medium to thin skin that is golden orange in color with a slightly rough, leathery texture. The fruit can contain up to six cream-colored seeds and is made up of 10 to 12 sections of sweet, tender, juicy flesh with a tangy and tart flavor and low acidity.
Named for the Spanish city of Valencia, Valencia oranges are extremely juicy and are the primary orange used for making orange juice. They're the classic "sweet orange," and they're available from March through September, with peak season from April to June.
Valencia oranges can sometimes show patches of green on their skins. This is because, as summer oranges, they are exposed to additional sunlight and warmth as compared with winter oranges, and this additional heat can activate the chlorophyll in the skin of the fruit, causing the appearance of these green patches. This so-called "regreening" does not affect the fruit's flavor or indicate that it isn't ripe. It's solely a matter of the green pigments in the skin being activated.
Valencia oranges contain little to no limonin, a compound found in other orange cultivars, such as the navel orange, which causes the juice of the fruit to become bitter after exposure to oxygen. The lack of this compound ensures that the juice made from Valencia oranges remains sweet, which is why they are favored for juicing.
How to Use Valencia Oranges
Valencia oranges, including their zest, their juice, and the fruit itself, can be used in baking, as well as for flavoring sauces and marinades, and can be cut up and served in salads and sliced in desserts. And of course, one of the most popular ways of eating it is simply to peel it and snack on the juicy sections of fruit within.
Because they don't become bitter when sliced or juiced, Valencia oranges are generally preferable to navel oranges when it comes to cooking. But since the orange season is divided into winter and summer, your choices will be limited according to what season it is.
Because their flavor pairs well with pork, Valencia oranges are a good choice for making pork marinades as well as sauces and glazes for pork. Their flavor helps to balance out the heat of chile peppers, and it also pairs nicely with chocolate. Crepes Suzette is a classic dessert made using the zest and the juice of Valencia oranges.
What Do They Taste Like?
Valencia oranges have a sweet flavor, which is balanced with tanginess and tartness, but without too much acidity.
A 100-gram serving of Valencia oranges is 86 percent water and provides 49 calories and 12 grams of carbs, along with 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and negligible fat. It also provides 49 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 54 percent of the USDA daily value, making Valencia oranges an excellent source of this nutrient.
Valencia Orange Recipes
Valencia oranges can be used in various dishes, such as salads, sauces, and desserts. In general, you can use Valencia oranges in recipes that call for oranges without specifying which variety.
Where to Buy Valencia Oranges
Valencia oranges are available throughout the spring and into summer, and can be found in grocery store produce sections and at farmers' markets. Look for ones that are firm and heavy with a golden orange hue and no soft or mushy spots.
Valencia oranges should be kept in a dry place in cool or cold temperatures. You can keep them at room temperature for a day or two, but the best place to store them is in the refrigerator. The crisper drawer on the low humidity setting (i.e. with the vent all the way open) is the best place for Valencia oranges. They'll stay fresh there for three to four weeks as opposed to a week or less at room temperature.
Valencia oranges. FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture