Buying Fresh Oranges
Featuring a slightly thicker skin and easy peeling and sectioning, navel oranges are in season November through May. They are sweet and juicy, and virtually seedless, allowing for easy preparation of entrees, salads, and all kinds of menu specialties. Navels have a small navel formation at the blossom end and are known as "winter oranges."
The navel orange was first introduced to the Southwest in the late 1800's, and immediately found a perfect climate for propagation. Fertile soil, warm days, and cool nights led to an optimum balance of sugars and acids, which determine an orange's taste profile. Today, Sunkist® navels grown in California and Arizona are known to be among the finest quality navel oranges available.
Known for their sweetness and juiciness, popular Valencia oranges are in season from February into November. They are differentiated from navel oranges by their thin, somewhat pebbly rind and occasional seeds. Ideal for juicing, Valencias are also excellent eating oranges.
Sunkist® Valencia oranges are never picked until they have fully matured on the tree and are completely ripe inside, regardless of exterior color. An unusual phenomenon of nature occurs in the ripening process of Valencia oranges. They begin to turn golden in the winter months, long before they are actually ripe. It takes months of continued tree ripening before these oranges are ready to pick. As the fruit hangs on the tree during the warm days of summer, these golden-colored oranges begin to turn green again at the stem end. Experts call this "regreening." They attribute it to warm ground temperatures, which cause the chlorophyll to return to the surface of the skin. The longer Valencias remain ripening on the tree, the greener they become.
Cara Cara Oranges
Cara Cara oranges, a type of navel orange grown in California's San Joaquin Valley, are available December through April. The bright orange exterior of cara cara oranges is similar to other navels, but their interior is a distinctive pinkish red, has an exceptionally sweet flavor with a tangy cranberry-like zing, and few to no seeds.
Cara Caras are an excellent source of vitamin C, A and fiber; a good source of foliate and potassium, and a natural source of Lycopene, the disease-fighting antioxidant. This power-packed citrus is gaining in popularity and with its lower acidity; it is a great treat for kids.
Fruit Quality Specifications
The Sunkist brand represents a premium piece of citrus that is the absolute highest quality citrus available. Sunkist's rigorous standards apply to virtually every aspect of the fruit: form, color, texture, and of course flavor, which is measured as a balance of sugars and acids also known as brix.
Choice fruit from Sunkist refers to citrus that have some exterior defects, but the same "Premium" quality to the interior fruit. Choice grade is economical when only the juice or segments without the rind are utilized.
Sizing - Packing
Our oranges are shipped in sturdy, standardized paperboard cartons which hold about 40 pounds of fruit (total weight will vary, based on fruit size). The size designation, printed on every carton, states the number of oranges in the carton and also gives an indication of the size of the individual fruit within that carton. For example, a carton of "88s" contains 88 medium-size oranges. A carton of "138s" holds 138 small-size oranges, while a carton of "48s" contains 48 very large oranges.
Check this size chart to find the size of orange best suited to your service.
Orange Handling & Storage
- Keep fresh oranges in a cool, well-ventilated area.
- Keep cartons on pallets off the floor for better air circulation.
- The best temperature range for citrus storage is 45° to 48° F.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that produce be washed under clean running tap water before eating.
- Washing helps remove microorganisms and dirt. Detergent should not be used because it is not labeled for food use.