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All About Oranges

Oranges taste great whether they are sliced, juiced, or added to a favorite recipe

You can now find oranges year round, but they are going to be best during the peak season, which runs from winter into early spring. That doesn't mean you should avoid them the rest of the year; an orange can provide up to ¾ of the daily allowance of Vitamin C.

If you're planning to juice the orange, pick it up and feel its weight in comparison to others in the bin. The heavier oranges will have the most juice. If you want to use orange zest in a recipe, choose the oranges that are loose. The bagged ones are those that aren't so attractive on the outside. Don't worry, though, if you buy the bagged kind and find a little mold in the broken skin of one or two oranges; the others won't be affected.

Navel oranges are great for snacking. They are typically very juicy and, with no seeds, make for less mess when adding to salads.

Thin-skinned oranges, such as Valencias, are better for juicing, but you can use any healthy orange for zest. Be sure to wash thoroughly, some oranges arrive at the grocers with a waxy coating. A healthy orange skin should be firm, shiny, and lightly dimpled.

Opinions vary on how to store oranges. You can choose your own method. Some say a refrigerator is too cold; others a pantry too warm. Some experts claim that 55 degrees is the perfect temperature. You can expect a week or so at room temp before the inner juice declines. If you're cutting and serving in slices, though, do so at room temperature.

For zesting, you can use a grater with the smaller holes, a microplaner, or a zester. Skim over the surface only and do not include any of the pith (the white part). Oils in an orange skin are what add wonderful flavor to dishes.

For juicing, roll the orange around on the counter, pressing with your palm; you'll get more juice. If the orange has been refrigerated, let it come to room temperature before juicing for best results. If you need only a little juice, price the skin with a pointy-ended toothpick and squeeze out a small amount. To keep the orange fresh for another use, fill in the hole with the toothpick.


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