How to pick oranges?

When searching through the produce section, you know that you want fruit that is ripe. But, what exactly does it mean for fruit to be ripe? The ripening process of fruit is basically the conversion of starch to sugar. When fruit is early in the ripening process, it is very starchy, which causes it to be hard and odorless. As fruit ripens, more sugar develops, which causes it to soften, change color, and put off a sweet aroma.

The ripeness of a fruit can be judged based on:

  • color
  • texture
  • aroma
  • weight

Fruit can be broken down into two basic categories: climacteric fruit and non-climacteric fruit.

Climacteric Fruit

Climacteric fruit continues to ripen after being harvested.


Before the ripening process begins, bananas are green. As they ripen, they turn yellow and develop brown spots. These brown spots appear as more starch is turned into sugar. The more brown spots a banana has, the softer the texture will be and the sweeter the taste.


Whether a granny smith or a red apple, the softer an apple, the riper it is. When ripe, apples should be bright in color, with a unified consistency.

Non-Climacteric Fruit

Non-climacteric fruit ceases to ripen after it has been harvested.


A ripe orange should be firm with a thin, smooth skin and no soft spots. The riper the orange, the heavier the orange should feel for its size.


When buying grapes, you want to make sure that they are not mushy in texture. If grapes easily fall from their stems, they are not as fresh as they should be.


As a non-climacteric fruit, strawberries do not become sweeter after being picked. This is why it is important to select strawberries that have a sweet aroma. A ripe strawberry will be bright red and free of dark spots.

Visit Your Local Market Basket for the Freshest Fruits and Vegetables

Market Basket understands produce, inside and out. Our produce is farm fresh every single day, and our Produce Managers are very knowledgeable. Our Associates are ready to answer any questions you may have about selecting the ripest produce for your family. Stop by your local Market Basket’s produce section to see our large, high quality selection.

Andrey Burkov/

There’s nothing better than bringing home a bag of juicy, ripe oranges for baking, drinking, 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 of 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. Make sure you know the 12 fresh foods you should never store together.

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. And don’t miss these 12 other tricks to keep your fruits and veggies fresh longer.


It’s best to wait to harvest fruit, such as most oranges, until they’ve developed their full color.

(PepsiCo via AP Images)

QUESTION: When is the best time to pick my oranges? I have about 60 this year on two trees, and it’s the first time I’ve gotten that many. Should I let them ripen on the tree or pick them before they’re fully ripe? They are just turning a pale greenish/yellow now. A few have split. — Annie Chambers

ANSWER: Wait to harvest the fruit until they’ve developed their full color. Most oranges ripen in December, although some, such as Valencia oranges and blood oranges, ripen later. It’s best to allow the citrus to ripen and get sweet on the tree since they will not sweeten any more once harvested.

Some citrus fruit (satsumas, notably) are ripe when there’s still a green blush on the skin. But waiting for the full color to develop ensures proper ripeness.

If you like, harvest a fruit or two, and see how they taste in early December. Continue to harvest one or two a week until the fruit are nice and sweet. That will give you an idea of when the fruit on your particular trees is ripe.

Once they are ripe, you don’t have to be in a hurry to harvest. Citrus fruit store well on the tree after they become ripe. Remember to harvest all fruit if a severe freeze (mid- to low 20) threatens this winter.

Splitting of citrus fruit is common at this time of the year. When the tree moves water into the fruit too fast, they swell rapidly, and the skin splits. Discard any split fruit.

Got a gardening question? Email Dan Gill at [email protected]

Harvesting Oranges: Learn When And How To Pick An Orange

Oranges are easy to pluck from the tree; the trick is to know when to harvest an orange. If you have ever purchased oranges from the local grocer, you are well aware that uniform orange color is not necessarily an indicator of a delicious, juicy orange; the fruit is sometimes dyed, which makes things confusing. The same rule of thumb applies when harvesting oranges; color is not always a determining factor.

When to Harvest an Orange

Times for harvesting oranges vary depending upon the variety. Picking oranges may occur any time from as early as March to as late as December or January. It’s helpful to know what variety of orange you have to determine the right time for picking oranges.

To be more specific, these tips should help:

  • Navel oranges are ready for harvest from November to June.
  • Valencia oranges are ready in March into October.
  • Cara Cara oranges ripen in December through May.
  • Clementine oranges are ready in October as are Satsuma until December or January.
  • Pineapple sweet oranges are ready for harvest from November to February.

As you can see, determining which type of orange you have gives you a hint as to when the fruit is ready. In general, most orange harvest takes place between late September and onward into early spring.

How to Harvest Oranges

Knowing how to pick an orange that is ripe can be tricky. As mentioned above, color is not always an indicator of an orange’s ripeness. That said, you don’t want to pick green fruit. In many cases, the ripe fruit will simply drop from the tree. Check the fruit for mold, fungus, or blemishes. Choose an orange to harvest that smells sweet, fresh and citrusy, not moldy. The surest way to check to see if an orange tree is ready to be picked is to taste one or two fruits before you harvest the entire tree. Remember, citrus does not continue to ripen once removed from the tree.

To harvest your oranges, simply grasp the ripe fruit in your hand and gently twist it until the stem detaches from the tree. If the fruit is too high, use a ladder to climb as far up as you can and shake the branches to loosen the fruit. Hopefully, the fruit will fall to the ground like citrus manna from heaven.

If the skins of your oranges tend to be very thin and, thus, easily torn, it is best to use clippers to cut the stems. Some varieties of oranges do well to just leave the ripe fruit on the tree for a few months longer instead of harvesting the entire tree at once. It’s a great storage method and often the fruit just gets sweeter.

Go ahead and gather fruit that has dropped from the tree to the ground. Inspect it for broken skin. Discard any that have open wounds, but the rest of them should be just fine to eat.

And that, citrus growers, is how to pick an orange.

Q. Where are oranges grown in Australia?

A. The industry’s largest growing areas are in the Riverland of South Australia, the Riverina in NSW and the Sunraysia districts along the Murray Valley as well as the Central Burnett region in Queensland. For more information, please .

Q. What orange varieties are available here?

A. Navels are one of the biggest orange varieties followed by valencias. Oranges are available year round. For more information,
please .

Q. What is the best way of storing oranges?

A. Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Freeze or refrigerate freshly squeezed orange juice or grated peel or zest but do not freeze whole citrus fruits. For more information, please .

Q. What is the difference between navels and valencias?

A. Navels are seedless oranges that have thick, pebbly skins and very sweet juicy flesh whereas valencies are nearly seedless and have a thin and slightly pebbly rind. Navels are available during the winter months and valencias come into season during our summer. For more information, please .

Q. Why do valencias have a green tinge?

A. All orange varieties go through the re-greening process however, Australian Valencia oranges are more obviously green because they are the only orange variety grown in Australia at the height of summer. In fact, the greener the skin, the sweeter and juicier the Australian Valencia orange is on the inside. It’s an indication that is has been left on the tree to absorb the energy of the sun and ripen naturally to its full potential.

Q. Are oranges only rich in Vitamin C?

A. Oranges are renowned for their Vitamin C content and other great nutritional properties of Australian oranges are often forgotten about. Generally, citrus fruits have the highest antioxidant activity of all fruits, helping to boost the immune system and protect against cancer and heart disease. For more information on nutrition, please .

Not all oranges are orange

It’s easy being green

NatooraFollow Oct 16, 2017 · 4 min read Green-state citrus is loaded with essential oils that decline as the fruit ripens

When it comes to our fruit, we’ve been taught to look for one thing: ripeness. Supermarkets have conditioned us to believe the most valuable, edible experiences are the perfectly ripe ones: the ones we pay the most for. Ripeness has its own brand. Unripeness, by contrast, is only ever a kind of negative state, with no identity other than not being ripe.

In the way we’re most likely to find it, unripeness is picking premature for easy transport.

When peaches are as hard as bullets, they can forgive pretty much all violence. They have been picked for operational ease, not to capture a particular experience of flavour. Most of these fruits are due artificial ripening and packaging as ripe produce: in turn draining meaning from ripeness and feeding an experience of flavour which is confused and entirely unreal. Ripe is cosmetically enhanced unripeness and unripeness is something we pretend does not exist.

Sicilian pink navel, in October, when sherbet notes and bracing acidity balance sweetness

Yet unripeness can be so much more than this.

It is possible to pick a fruit, not yet fully mature, in a way that is gauged to capture its particular expressive texture at that point. Ripeness is the end of the story, but clearly, its cumulative events, the threads that got us there, are as interesting if not more so. Unripeness, let us say, is the unfinished, the work in progress. It has a different appeal. Unfinished things, things which are not yet about pure pleasure, more about interpretation and difficulty — engage us differently. We engage with them as collaborators and interpreters. Not surprising then, that where unripeness is celebrated, it’s in professional kitchens.

A Quick Primer on the Etymology of the Word “Orange” and Why They’re Sometimes Green

This morning, Rob Delaney tweeted about oranges, and it made me curious about the history of the word. It had come up in an earlier article about why we call redheads “redheads” and not “orangeheads,” so I wanted to revisit it. Here’s why oranges are called oranges and why sometimes they’re green.

Here’s Delaney’s tweet that started this:

Good job whoever named the orange.

— rob delaney (@robdelaney) March 27, 2014

It’s probably common for people to assume that oranges were named for their color, but as I pointed out in the redheads story, the word for the fruit came first by more than 200 years.

It derives from the Sanskrit word naranga which refers to the tree itself rather than the fruit. After filtering through other languages (Persian narang, Arabic naranj, Venetian naranza, Italian arancia) we eventually get to Medieval Latin’s word for the fruit itself, pomum de orenge (inexpertly translated by me to mean “Fruit of the Orange Tree.”)

From there, we get the French word orange around the year 1300, but it wasn’t used in English to describe the color until around 1540.

Because it’s the Internet, a lot of people have responded to Delaney’s tweet claiming that oranges aren’t actually orange.

@robdelaney Oranges aren’t actually orange tho. They’re green & sprayed w/ ethanol before sale so that’s some real Dojo marketing 4 your ass

— Molly (@MollyBeauchemin) March 27, 2014

This isn’t entirely untrue, but it’s worth explaining in case anyone thinks their supermarket is just spray painting green oranges orange like the cards painting the Queen of Hearts’ white roses red.

Oranges can be green. While some fruits start out green and change color as they ripen, a green orange can be perfectly ripe. There are a number of conditions that can affect an orange’s color including variety, climate, and nutrient levels. Even after an orange turns orange, it can change to a green color due to the fruit’s chlorophyll.

To make them more appealing to grocery shoppers, packing houses “degreen” oranges by exposing them to ethylene gas. This gas destroys the chlorophyll held in the rind, allowing the orange color to show through—similar to how leaves change color in the fall. If you’re curious, the University of Florida recommends five parts per million as the ideal ethylene levels and recommends degreening at temperatures between 82 to 85oF. If you want to know even more about degreening, you can read their full recommended guidelines for the process.

If you don’t want to read a four-page document about citrus packaging practices, just know that yes—sometimes oranges are green, and people use science to make them more orange. FDA guidelines do allow for the use of artificial colors in oranges without explicit labeling, but everything I’ve seen in researching this article points to ethylene degreening as the preferred method.

None of this changes the fact that whoever started calling oranges “oranges” did a damn fine job.

(via Grammar Girl, Etymonline, and The University of Florida, image via Cecilia Aros)

  • We don’t call redheads “orangeheads” because “orange” wasn’t a thing until the 1540s
  • Rob Delaney’s tweets also inspired me to track down the creator of this robotic butt
  • Delaney took over the MLB Twitter account a while ago, and it was glorious

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Is an orange called an orange because it’s orange, or is orange orange because of the orange? Which came first, the fruit or the colour?

The fruit came first. The English word “orange” has made quite a journey to get here. The fruit originally came from China – the German word Apfelsine and the Dutch sinaasappel (Chinese apple) reflect this – but our word ultimately comes from the Old Persian “narang”. Early Persian emperors collected exotic trees for their landscape gardens, which may well have included orange trees. Arabs later traded the fruit and spread the word all the way to Moorish Spain; the Spanish word for orange is “naranja”. In Old French, the fruit became “orenge” and this was adopted into Middle English, eventually becoming our orange, fruit as well as colour.

Anna Alberda Ellis, Huddersfield

As the instance of “pume orenge” in a 13th-century Anglo-Norman manuscript indicates, orange was in fact first used as an adjective. Yet, the Persian word from which “orange” is derived did not refer to the colour of the fruit, but to the bitterness of its skin. Orange as a colour adjective dates from the early 16th century; therefore we can say that the orange is called orange because it is orange, as well as orange is orange because of the orange.

Wilfried Heinz, Tübingen, Germany

There are very few pure colour names like black, white, red, blue, green or brown; most of the hundreds of words we use for colours come from things such as fruit, flowers, precious stones and other objects, eg cerise, turquoise, indigo, violet, amber. Witness a recent Simon Hoggart’s sketch (Guardian, March 19): “His face, normally the colour of terracotta, went through plum tomato, to brick red and on to tomato.”

Ormond Uren, London NW5

A new film, Centurion, suggests that a Roman legion (the 9th) was wiped out in Scotland in AD117. Did this really happen?

The film Centurion is not based upon the book The Eagle of the Ninth, beyond the idea of the disappearing ninth legion (N&Q, 24 March). Award-winning novelist Rosemary Sutcliff’s story is of a young Roman who goes on a quest with his slave Esca to discover the fate of his father’s lost ninth legion, restore his father’s reputation, and retrieve the lost eagle. It is the basis of the film The Eagle of the Ninth, being made by Kevin Macdonald. My evidence for this? I look after Rosemary Sutcliff’s books and legacy, as her onetime godson and cousin..

Anthony Lawton, Leicester

I would be very surprised if a Roman legion would have been destroyed as it slept in camp (N&Q, 24 March). A Roman legion in enemy territory would have built a marching fort, which would have prevented it being rushed by an attacking force. Sentries would have been placed to give early warning of an attack.

Also, a night attack is very difficult to organise. An interesting parallel is the attempted night attack by the Jacobite army on the government army before the battle of Culloden in 1746. Despite being on home ground and having local guides, the Jacobites got lost and the attack had to be abandoned. The difficulties facing a tribal chieftain in the Roman period would, if anything, have been greater. So it is very unlikely to have happened that way.

Andrew Tampion, Hinckley, Leics

What is there in a song that makes someone like it? I love key changes, but no one else seems to – why is this?

I think that musicians regard a key change as a cheap method of creating emotion in a song: the shift in key is a very functional way of seeming to make the song “soar”. A song such as Oasis’s All Around the World illustrates this; the chorus is simply too dull without the key change, which gives it the feel of being anthemic. Compare this to, say, Blur’s Tender (to reopen mid-90s wounds), which stays in one key and has a hook that is repeated a lot: it stays interesting because of subtle changes in lengths of chorus, guitar line and backing vocals.

Keith Williams, London

Any answers

When a major work of art is sold to an anonymous buyer, does it completely vanish or do insiders in the art world know where it is?

Sally Howel, London SW2

Is any research going on into a depilatory to replace shaving? There is something a bit bronze age about scraping one’s face with a razor.

Alan Rooks, Leicester

Send questions and answers to [email protected] Please include name, address and phone number.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *