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.