What Oranges Make the Best Orange Juice?

By Lori A. Selke

The truth is, you can juice just about any variety of orange and end up with a glass of sweet yet tangy liquid. But some oranges are better for eating out of hand, while others never really shine until they're squeezed. Out of the two most commonly found varieties of orange, navels and Valencias, the Valencias take the prize for top juicers. Valencias and navels are often available at different times of the year, however, and the very best orange for juicing is the one that's in season, regardless of variety.

Refreshing Organic Orange Juice
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Tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice

Valencia Oranges Rule the Roost

Valencia oranges are thin-skinned and heavy with juice. They're smaller than navels and harder to peel. The flavor of their juice is also more complex, with a stronger tang than navels, which tend to be straightforwardly sweeter. Juice made from Valencias also holds its flavor well overnight, unlike navels, which should be squeezed at the last minute as their juice turns bitter quickly. Watch out for seeds when preparing home-squeezed Valencia orange juice. Choose fruit that's heavy for its size -- those will be the ones that contain the most juice. If your Valencias have a slight green cast, don't worry; they sometimes "regreen" in the summer sun. The juicy and seedless Cara Cara variety of navel orange yields a less acidic juice, while blood oranges and mandarins lend exotic color and flavor to the glass.