Does an orange have to be 100% orange to taste good?
Not all of the time, but it’s not always so simple.
One of the most amazing things about orange trees is that if you leave the fruit on the trees, they cannot over-ripen. So why do some varieties of citrus, mainly Valencia oranges, often have a skin that can contain an often significant amount of green at certain times of the year? It’s called “regreening” and the short and simple answer is heat.
Citrus requires cold to inhibit the chlorophyll pigments and set that instantly recognizable orange color, so late season varieties, such as the Valencia, are particularly susceptible to this malady. You may be wondering if there is anything that can be done to combat this, and to an extent there is, though it is not always successful. According to The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at the University of Florida, both heat and ethylene can be used to curb the re-appearance of chlorophyll.
Let’s geek out for a second for you numbers folks…
The recommended temperature range is 82°F to 85°F (28°C to 29°C), though Florida law prohibits using this method with temperatures in excess of 85°F, unless steam is used to increase the ambient humidity. In addition, air circulation is also of great importance, with a recommended air flow of one room change per hour. There has also been some research done to determine if growing practices can be altered, with the focus on Nitrogen.
Ok, that was techy.
So, do oranges with regreening mean they don’t taste like an orange should?
Absolutely not. In fact, some growers claim that citrus fruit with a greenish cast to their skin are often sweeter. The skin color simply means the fruit was grown in a warm climate, as both California and Florida have stringent requirements that have to be met before any citrus can be harvested and sold. So why the concern if the fruit tastes good? The short answers are retail and export markets. Many consumers buy with their eyes first, believing that the green color indicates an unripe piece of fruit.
So what can we do? Educating consumers is the key. Videos are a great way, as Sunkist has done in this clip. Take some segments from a Valencia orange that is showing signs of regreening with your customer and have them taste it, because as the old adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.
Don’t let orange regreening scare you away, as it is simply hiding the wonderful flavor of the Valencia orange.
Content provided by Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years, and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.