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Oranges are one of the most loved citrus fruits all over the world. Whether it’s fresh oranges, orange juice, orange sweets, orange sherbet, orange pop, even orange essence to make your house smell fresh – we love orange!
They come with many health benefits, from fibre, to potassium, to being a fantastic form of vitamin C.
To most of us, we would assume that oranges have always existed. However, this is far from the truth of how our beloved, natural, and tasty fruit really exists.
Oranges do in fact come with many interesting and unknown facts. Despite the name, oranges are not always orange, and the vibrant orange colours of different oranges actually depend on the climate in which it was grown. Some remain green even once they have ripened, and some turn red as they ripen – commonly known as the blood orange.
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Do oranges have seeds?
One fact we can rely on is that there are seeds in oranges. But do all oranges have seeds? The short answer is yes, the long answer is no. Two types of oranges exist in nature – one of them with seeds, the other without.
When it comes to any fruit, it is no word of a lie to say that humans would rather not deal with the hassle of seeds. We can buy seedless fruits across the globe these days – seedless grapes, seedless oranges, seedless pears – you name it!
However, seeds can be a particular nuisance when it comes to oranges. Sometimes we can find ourselves spending more time picking out the seeds than we spend actually enjoying the fruit. It’s a never-ending competition to have the orange that is the easiest to peel and has the least seeds.
What oranges are seedless?
The most common seedless orange is the navel orange. It exists as the result of a mutation in the Laranja Selecta orange tree. This means that the seedless fruit is not genetically modified, but has developed over the course of a natural mutation.
Rumor has it that the navel orange was discovered in Brazil in 1820, although knowing the specific date cannot be determined.
The name ‘navel’ comes from the ‘second fruit’ that grows at the apex of the main fruit. This is because it looks very similar to a human navel. They were originally approved for production in the 1870s – when the trees were planted in the US.
The trees began to develop these fruits around two years later, and from then on the production and sales of navel oranges have continued to happen.
The secret is the bigger the navel the better the orange. So, next time you’re in the grocery store keep an eye out on navel size if you are looking for a super sweet, but less-seeded orange that is typically easier to peel.
Why are some oranges seedless?
Seedless oranges exist as the result of a natural mutation – a result of a change within the cells of a plant and can be caused by a change in weather, temperature, or insect impact.
So, if the oranges don’t have seeds then how on earth can they be propagated? Well, unlike the usual method of planting that you probably have in mind, seedless oranges are propagated by taking small branches from a fruitful tree and planting it separately or grafting it onto another orange tree.
They tend to grow best in the winter. This means that no matter where you buy your navel orange, it will always originate from the traditional tree in Brazil.
What oranges have seeds?
Contrary to the navel, there are also many types of oranges that continue to have seeds and are more commonly grown and bought by consumers. These oranges can include blood oranges, Hamlins, and tangerines. The most common type of oranges with seeds is the Valencia orange.
Valencia oranges originate from the Spanish city where they are grown in huge numbers – hence the name. They are grown and planted the same way that any seeded fruit is planted – by using the seed. As seedless oranges become more popular, it is becoming more and more difficult to get hold of Valencia oranges.
Valencia oranges are mostly intended for juice production. They tend to ripen later in the spring and have a delicious, deep orange coloured juice with a very high sugar content.
This means that they are not only a popular orange to eat, but they are the most popular orange used for making orange juice.
Are orange seeds harmful?
Many people grow up with the misconception that seeds are dangerous to eat, but more often than not this is not the case. Like anything, if the seed makes its way to the gut, then it may inflame the appendix, but in most cases you will be completely fine if you accidentally swallow an orange seed.
In fact, some people actually claim that orange seeds, much like the fruit itself, are rich in vitamins. They can be considered a powerful antioxidant that helps keep our metabolism high.
What is the sweetest, juiciest orange?
Both types of orange previously mentioned take the lead as the most popular oranges but for different reasons. The navel oranges are successful as they have no seeds but maintain the sweet, juicy flavours that we all love. They also tend to be extremely easy to peel, making them a popular choice for children.
Valencia oranges remain popular, despite their seeds. Their rich colours and flavours make them a popular choice for juicing, but also for eating when it comes to people who do not mind picking out the seeds.
The seeds make them easier to pollinate and grow and they need less human maintenance to propagate, however they are becoming less popular over time as the navel oranges become more available and preferred.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that the term ‘orange’ cannot be used to define one specific fruit. Like many things in life, oranges come in multiple weights, shapes and sizes, flavors and textures.
Although some oranges are seedless, this does not mean they are genetically modified. Instead, this is a result of a natural mutation in the tree, and these mutations happen to many plants all the time.
Over time we are seeing an increased preference for seedless fruit in general, helping to generate a larger need for the navel orange. Despite this, the sweet and juicy Valencia orange remains a popular choice.
Swallowing seeds will not cause you any more harm than swallowing any other edible parts of the plant, and this applies for oranges too.
While it is not recommended to swallow high volumes of orange seeds, it can be said that orange seeds are rich in minerals and nutrients and so swallowing the odd seed accidentally may actually be beneficial to your immune system.
But overall, if you are going to take anything from this article then just remember this – the larger the navel, the better the orange!