For Citrus Week, we’re mixing it up and using a bunch of different types of oranges in our daily recipe videos (did you see Sarah get surprised by a blood orange in today's recipe video?). Some offer juiciness, some sweetness, and others add festive color to a previously plain dish. Read on for more about our three favorite varieties.
Navel: Navels are the best oranges for straight-up eating. They peel and segment easily, are seedless, and are low in acid. They balance out more bitter ingredients like vinegar—in Orange and Balsamic Chicken—and go well in Asian-inspired dishes (try Sesame Orange Shrimp).
Did you ever wonder what that little “navel” actually is? Shocker: it’s another orange! This underdeveloped, conjoined twin is the result of a mutation that occurred in an orange two hundred years ago. And the oranges you see in the grocery store aren’t just descendants of that first mutated navel orange; they are the same orange.
Because navel oranges are seedless, they can’t reproduce on their own. Cuttings from that original orange tree were grafted onto other citrus trees to create navel-producing plants. Cuttings from those new trees were grafted onto other trees, and so on. That means that we are still growing fruit from the original tree. Every navel orange you will eat is genetically identical—a clone—of the first fruit that sprung up centuries ago.
Cara cara: These oranges—a cross between a Washington navel and a Brazilian Bahia navel—look similar to a regular navel on the outside but are hiding pinkish-red flesh inside. They’re sweet, juicy, and have a hint of berry-like flavor.
Cara caras are the latest citrus craze, because they add an unexpected twist to any orange dish. They get their color from lycopene—the same as in tomatoes. Substitute them in Chicken with Couscous and Orange or harness their color in a beautiful Chocolate Roasted-Orange Tart.
Blood orange: These fruits get their distinctive color from anthocyanins—antioxidant pigments that color other fruits like cherries or raspberries but are often not found in citrus. They have a stronger, slightly more sour flavor than a normal orange, with distinct notes of raspberry. We suggest using them in any recipe where you want to dazzle with stunning presentation. Gift a jar of Orange Compote or serve up an unexpected Bloody Orange Mary.