A tall glass of cold, freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast or a vitamin-packed mimosa mixer for a spot-on brunch might be two of the most popular ways to consume orange juice. However, not all oranges are the same. Some varieties were bred for snacking or juicing, while others offer a tarter, more bitter taste. With a little insight, choosing the best oranges for juicing will be a breeze at the grocery store or farmer's market.
What Are the Best Oranges for Juicing?
The best all-around orange for juicing is also a popular variety for cooking and snacking too: the navel orange. These sweet, seedless oranges are large and juicy, which means you won't need dozens upon dozens of them to make a glass, or even a pitcher, of orange juice. Look for these during the winter months when they are freshly harvested.
Valencia oranges are a good alternative to navel oranges because they have a longer growing season. Primarily grown in Florida, these oranges are usually harvested between October and January with a second harvest in March and April. These oranges have a few seeds, but they are sweet and medium-sized, which makes them good for your juicer.
Other Varieties of Oranges
A clementine, also called a mandarin or a tangerine, is ideal for snacking, and it can be used for juicing; however, these varieties are small. Because of their diminutive size, you'll need significantly more to make the equivalent amount of juice from a navel or Valencia orange.
Blood oranges have a lower acidity than navel or Valencia oranges, and they produce a deep pink juice. These oranges are sweeter than most oranges and have a distinctly tart aftertaste. Blood oranges are great for juicing and snacking, and you can readily identify them by their paler orange skin and ruby-colored flesh.
Almost a cross between a navel and blood orange, the cara cara navel orange is very similar to a navel orange, but with darker, pink flesh. Cara cara orange juice is sweet and tangy. Additionally, it's easy to make because these oranges are seedless, easily separated from their skin and don't have a pith, the white skin between the outer layer and the inner flesh of the orange.
Tips for Juicing Oranges
Making a cup of orange juice requires three medium-sized Valencia oranges or two to three large navel oranges. Since there are 8 ounces in 1 cup, 128 ounces, or 16 cups, equal a gallon. To make a gallon of orange juice, you'd need 32 navel oranges or 48 Valencia oranges. One mimosa needs only about 2 ounces of orange juice – just enough to change the color of the champagne. To serve brunch to four, you'll need the equivalent of 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of orange juice per every round of mimosas.
To juice an orange, roll it on a countertop or hard surface using the heel of your hand to push the orange into the surface. This softens the flesh and loosens the juice, so it can be extracted more easily. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze it into a glass using the other hand or a strainer to catch the seeds, if necessary. Use a spoon to remove any pulp, if desired.
Alternatively, use a juicing machine or a manual orange juicer. An orange juicer is a container with a pointed cone in the middle and a grate to allow the juice to flow into the container. Again, roll the orange and cut it in half. Place the orange half over the cone and twist it so that all the flesh is compressed to the sides of the skin. Any seeds or pulp will not flow through the grate guard.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.