Navels vs. Valencias

by Gretchen Bay

Valencia and navel oranges are similar in flavor and appearance, but what distinguishes one from the other? Oranges are one of the most commonly grown fruits in the world, and both Valencias and navels are categorized as “sweet oranges” of the genus Citrus x sinensis. From the outside, the main distinguishing characteristic that can help you tell them apart is the feature that gives navel oranges their name.

The navel orange actually grows a second “twin” fruit opposite its stem. The second fruit remains underdeveloped, but from the outside, it looks like a human navel—hence the name. Navels are part of the winter citrus family. They’re seedless, peel easily, and are thought to be one of the world’s best-tasting oranges.

Valencias, often called “summer oranges” (they’re typically available starting in March and continuing through September or so) are named for the city of Valencia in Spain, although they’re thought to have originated in China or India. Valued for their high juice content and availability outside of the typical citrus season, Valencia oranges are usually thin-skinned and have a few seeds.

A medium orange has only about 60 calories and provides 116% of the daily value of vitamin C; 13% of dietary fiber; 10% folate; 8% thiamin; 7% potassium; 6% vitamin A; and 5% calcium.

And don’t be deterred if you see a tinge of green on oranges—it is caused by chlorophyll to help protect the oranges from sunburn. Green-tinged oranges are ripe and still taste sweet!

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