Saturday, February 2, 2013

All About Oranges in India

Origin of Orange
Orange has a long, convoluted history, in part because it is not a wild fruit. Rather, it is a carefully refined hybrid of mandarin and pomelo. Contenders for the countries that first cultivated the orange are northeastern India, southern China, and possibly Indochina. While pummelos originate in India, mandarins came from China.

Several ancient civilizations engaged in citrus cultivation: the Chinese, Indians, Jews, Persians, Arabs, Greeks, and Romans, to name a few. Each of these groups use citrus in one ceremony or another: the Jews buy etrogs for Sukkot, Christians placed oranges on Christmas trees, and the Chinese exchange citrus during the New Year.

All of these groups often traded—or forcibly acquired, in the event of war—citrus seeds, cultivation techniques and technology. One of the greatest periods for oranges was the Andalusian period, occurring from the 13th century onward: Improvements in irrigation created a veritable citrus belt throughout Spain, many of which created the orange cultivars best recognized today: Seville, Valencia, Zaragoza, and Granada, to name a few.

In the mid 1400s, Italian traders brought oranges fruit to Europe, and the Spaniards introduced them throughout South America and Central America. The United States owes Spanish voyager, Ponce de Leon, for bringing citrus to Florida in 1513. Today, oranges are one of the most widely cultivated fruits in the world.

Availability of Orange in India
Oranges are a major crop for India, ranking only after bananas and mangos in volume. 2010 figures published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization ranks India third in the world for oranges, behind only Brazil and the United States. Combined, these three countries account for almost half of the world’s production of 68 million tons. India exports sweet oranges to countries including Sri Lanka, France, the UK, Belgium, and Bangladesh.

The country’s orange season varies by region. In the north, orange season is from December to February; in the South, the season is notably longer from October through March. Central and western India’s season is November through January, as well as March through May. 

Orange production is concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. The areas producing mandarins are Coorg, Vidharba, Darjeeling, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagpur, Akola and Punjab. These regions have the ideal mandarin growing conditions of high rainfall in summer and humidity. Areas producing sweet oranges are Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Nagpur, and Akola.

Types of Oranges in India
India grows several varieties of oranges, differentiated by their sweetness and exterior.  In fact, The National Research Centre for Citrus in Nagpur, India cites that the country houses a staggering 1,505 types of citrus. Though limes, Seville oranges, sweet limes, lemons and mosambis are technically Citrus sinensis, the focus will be on the country’s sweet citruses and mandarins. Varieties include:

Mandarin (loose-sleeved, easily peeled oranges): Coorg, Nagpur, Darjeeling, Khasi, Sumthira, Kinnow

Sweet orange (peel adheres firmly to flesh): Blood red, Satgudi, Jaffa, Hamlin, Pineapple, Haryana, and Valencia

Where to find Orange in India

When in season, oranges are everywhere. While India imports citrus from countries like Australia during the off-season, the cost is triple and the taste isn’t as vibrant or multi-dimensional. Indeed, the imported fruits that appear off-season tend to be hard with a dull, orange skin.

Checking for Ripeness in Orange
When judging an orange’s flavor based on appearance, looks can be deceiving. Some of the ugliest, wrinkled fruit mottled with yellow or green may be tastier than a round, glossy uniformly orange fruit. The delicious yet aptly named citrus variety, the Ugli, stands in affirmation of this point.

An orange should feel heavy for its size and have a glossy sheen on account of its skin’s oils.  Look for fruits with a waxy skin with no signs of a leathery, dry appearance. Avoid fruits with black spots and obvious mold. The orange’s color should not be used to determine ripeness: many Indian varieties are green, greenish-yellow or orange tinged with green.

Scratch the orange’s surface gently—if oils collect under the fingertips, it’s fresh. If not, the orange may have been sitting on the shelf for too long.

Ripe, loose-skinned fruits do not have the same compactness of other types: some are like small tangerines placed inside of orange jackets much too big. When peeling the fruit, it’s as if it’s being freed from an oversized cage.

Selecting a quality orange in India isn’t easy on account of the country’s great diversity. If in doubt, ask the vendors for a sample; most should willingly oblige.

Taste of Orange
Oranges taste bright, zesty, acidic, sour, sweet, juicy, and hydrating. These fruits are not subtle like apples or pears: Even the subtlest oranges offer a one-two punch to the taste buds. Oranges deserve their reputation as liquid sunshine, given their energizing taste.

Note: Orange types vary in taste on account of its well-recorded sugar to acid ratio: The lower the ratio, the sweeter the fruit. Valencias, for example have some of the lowest at 10:1, whereas a mosambi is very acidic with a ratio of 30:1. Many of the sweet oranges have a range of 10-15 to 1.

Nutritional Value of Orange
Per 100g of edible fruit, oranges offer the following nutrition:

11.7g Carbs
2.4g Fiber (10% RDI)
.1g Fat
.9g Protein (2% RDI)
225IU Vitamin A (4% RDI)
53.2mg Vitamin C (89% RDI)
.2mg Vitamin E (1% RDI)
.1mg Thiamin (6% RDI)
Riboflavin 2% RDI
.1mg Vitamin B6 (3% RDI)
30mcg Folate (8% RDI)
.3mg Pantothenic Acid (3% RDI)
40mg Calcium (4% RDI)
10mg Magnesium (2% RDI)

181mg Potassium (5% RDI)

Vegan orange spice cookies from

Health Benefits of Orange
Oranges are one of the highest Vitamin-C containing fruits. Back in the maritime days of exploration, citrus was crucial to preventing scurvy—vials of lemon juice were issued to Dutch sailors to keep the oft-fatal disease at bay.

 According to the book, “Health Benefits Derived from Sweet Oranges,” oranges contain potent bioflavonoids critical for maintaining blood capillary health, which in turn staves off varicose veins and thrombosis. Such bioflavonoids also help the body treat hemorrhoids, bleeding kidneys, and bleeding gums. Additionally, Vitamin C helps maintain collagen health, which keeps skin youthful and healthy.

A 2012 article posted in the “Times of India” espouse benefits of orange including DNA protection thanks to its antioxidant contents. Vitamin C also keeps the immune system strong, warding off winter colds and hastening recovery time. A compound in the peel of the orange proved to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs.

--According to a study published in Food Control, orange peel contains potent antimicrobial properties.
--A study published in Food Chemistry found that orange peel exhibits strong cellular protection from oxidative stress.
--Results in a study published in Pharmaceutical Biology indicate that orange rind extract was an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis when tested in rats.
--Another study published in Spectrochimica Acta found orange peel extract as a strong antibacterial agent.

--As published in a 2012 Biomedica article, orange oil and basil oil both proved to be “good” to “excellent” acne treatments when applied topically, with the group noticing a 43 to 75 percent clearance of lesions.

How to Open/Cut:

Sweet oranges can be cut a variety of ways, depending on its end use. If eating out of hand, simply peel the fruit and separate the slices, or cut the fruit into slices with the skin in-tact, and eat the flesh from the skin.

To cut delicate orange slices free of pith or membrane, first skin the orange. Use a straight edge utility knife, or a sharp paring knife. Lop off both ends of the fruit, and stand it upright on the cutting board. Then, cut away equal sized pieces of the skin, similar to the method of shaving a pineapple. Remove any white pith remaining on the orange. Next, cut into the fruit along its membrane, and slice away wedges of fruit.

Oranges do not improve in taste or color once picked, so there’s no need to wait for the fruit to ripen. Keep the fruits in the refrigerator, preferably at 90 to 95 percent humidity. At temperatures between 3 to 9C, oranges will keep for three to eight weeks.

Note: whole oranges do not freeze well on account of their compound, limonin. This pungent substance becomes more pronounced in freezing temperatures, and will impart its bitterness in the fruit. It is, however, possible to preserve oranges in the freezer by making a syrup pack:  This entails submerging peeled, cut slices in a syrup consisting of water and at least 40 percent sugar. The sugar isn’t necessary, although not using a sweetener may result in poorer flavor, texture and color.

If preserving the rind, it’s best to use a dehydrator or leave covered in the sun. Outdoor weather should be dry and a minimum temperature of 29C.

Orange Recipe Ideas and Uses:
Aside from being a quick energy snack, orange has been a star ingredient in several Western, Persian and Indian dishes.

--Blend into a smoothie using simple nut milk, a pinch of salt, and sugar. Freeze for an orange creamsicle.
--Add the juice to smoothie recipes. Include bananas, strawberries, mango, coconut, guava, or passion fruit.
--Freeze the juice into ice cubes and serve with lemonade or coconut water
--Make candied peel by stewing and reducing in sugar water. Dip the half of the cooled peel in chocolate for a sweet garnish or candy to serve alongside tea.
--Grate orange peel for use in sweet breads, icings and glazes
--Make orange sorbet
--Squeeze the juice into guacamole for a tangy sweet variation
--Instead of orange chicken, make orange tofu by coating the tofu in masala, then marinating it with orange juice, the peel, sugar and mustard. Bake for 30 minutes.
--Make a citrus salad by combining chunks of orange, mandarin, grapefruit, and pomelo with mint, basil and honey or agave.
--Use mandarin slices in any Asian salad recipe, such as those calling for cabbage, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and cashew nuts.

--Substitute orange juice for water in any simple cupcake, muffin or cake recipe.

Citrus salad from

Flavor Complements:
Lemon, lime, banana, pineapple, mango, strawberry, peach, noni, apricot, pomegranate, date, fig, grape, guava, cherry, coconut, amla, persimmon, kiwi, kumquat, nungu, papaya, passion fruit, pomelo, santol, soursop, wood apple

Herbs, spices, and oil: olive oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, salt, pepper, rum, nut butter, chili, fennel, rosemary, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisin, maple syrup, nut milk, pistachio, almond, walnut, coconut oil, vanilla, chocolate, champagne

Random Facts:
Orange peel oil is prized in cosmetics and soaps. The tasteless white pith doesn’t have such a glamorous use, as one of its main marketing points is for use as cat litter.

Oranges are one of the few fruits that can stay on the tree and not become overripe.

Scientific Name:
Citrus sinensis

Other Names:
Orange, mandarin, tangerine, tangelo

Related Fruits:

Lemon, lime, sweet lime, kumquat, pomelo, calamondin


  1. Very informative article to educate people about cultivation....

  2. Very much informative about Indian citrus.

  3. can you tell us about orange peel oil availability

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  5. how we can say your post is too good. Actually very less info, buy presentation is superb, ok thanks

  6. You may learn how to use Orange oil if you are suffering respiratory problems, or if your immunity is going weak. Ok well well for upward immunity system.

  7. Thanks for sharing the amazing health benefits of orange Juice. Its taste just like a healthy juices, its totally herbal and there is no side effects, It should be drink in daily basis at morning. Its my personal suggestion.
    hydration juice

  8. Thanks for providing such useful information about oranges!!!

  9. Thanks for sharing such beautiful information with us. I hope you will share some more information about orange. Please keep sharing.
    Benefits Of Orange Juice