Today when I went shopping for groceries I picked up a bag of oranges to make into juice. Normally I buy a variety of navel orange called Lane-Late. This variety was detected in 1950 as a spontaneous mutation of navel oranges on the property of L. Lane, in Australia. Practically 50% of the production of navel oranges is Lane Late. It’s the only type of navel orange I have seen here. But today I wanted to try something different.
A single mutation in 1820 in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in Brazil yielded the navel orange, also known as the Washington navel. The mutation causes navel oranges to develop a second orange at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem. The second orange is a
Siamese conjoined twin with a set of tiny segments embedded within the peel of the larger orange. From the outside, it looks like a human navel. The next time you eat a navel orange, look for that mini-twin.
Because navels are seedless, the only way to cultivate more trees is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus. Two such cuttings of the original tree were transplanted to Riverside, California in 1870, one of which is still alive and bearing fruit.
Most of the oranges in Spain are grown in the area around Valencia. The Valencia or Murcia orange is one of the sweetest oranges and is used for making juice. You would think that they would be easily available here, but no, I haven’t found any. Maybe that is because it is a late-season fruit, and more available when navels are out of season.
So I ended up buying a bag of blood oranges, a variety with crimson, blood-colored juice. The fruit is smaller than an average orange and its skin is smoother. The distinctive blood color is due to the dye anthocyanin.
The blood orange is often described as a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine, but it is actually just a mutation of a sweet orange. There are a number of varieties of blood oranges and can’t figure out which one I bought, but it is probably Sanguinello. It tastes like an orange, but the flavor is not as intense nor as sweet as a Lane-Late navel.
Naranja sanguina / Blood Orange
Sample fruit and glass of juice.