The Juicy Secret to Choosing Ripe Oranges

There's nothing worse than a bad apple, or in this case a bad orange. Choose the freshest ripe oranges every time, no matter the season!

Variety of oranges on boxes in supermarketPhoto: Shutterstock/Andrey Burkov

There’s nothing better than bringing home a bag of juicy, ripe oranges for bakingdrinking, or just nibbling. Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, oranges are a sweet and delicious treat year-round—and versatile in the kitchen. You can use oranges to whip up a batch of pancakes or create a salmon glaze. But how do you get the perfect one no matter the season? Here are some secrets to ensuring the most delicious picks:

Give ’em a squeeze

Generally, the tastiest orange—whatever the variety—will be firm, full-colored, smooth and thin-skinned. As you would with most fruits and veggies, steer clear or those that are too soft, show even the smallest signs of mold, or feel as though they have bruises. Don’t be afraid of slight scratches or marks on the skin; this is called “wind scarring,” which happens when fruit rubs against the tree branches during windy weather.

Go for heft

When you pick one up, you should feel a good amount of weight in your hand, like a small sports ball. This heaviness indicates how much juice is in your orange. Don’t be afraid to give it a sniff. The sweetest and ripest fruits will emit the scent of their juices through the skin.

Choose the season’s best

Make sure to pick a variety that is in season. Navel oranges, for example, taste freshest from midwinter to early spring. Valencias are their juicy best from late spring to midsummer. And blood oranges are in their prime from early winter until early spring.

Consider the color

No matter the variety, your orange should be a bright color. With navels, look for a vivid, solid orange hue. Ripe Valencias might still have a greenish tinge, as they reabsorb chlorophyll while hanging on the tree during warmer months.

Store them properly. Use oranges as a cheery accent on your table (they’ll keep at room temperature for up to a week), or store in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.