An orange by any other name would be as tasty


January 31, 1993|By ROB KASPER

It used to be that an orange was an orange. The way a rose is a rose. No more.

Now there are so many types of fruit with orange skin in the produce section that you almost need a program to identify the players. One way to make it through the aisle is to make the endeavor a game, a sort of know-your-citrus quiz show.

For starters, what is a Dancy?

If you don't know, go straight to the canned juice aisle and study the labels. We'll call you.

But if you said that a Dancy is a small-to-medium-size tangerine, with loose peel and a few seeds, and is usually seen in supermarkets in December and January, then you are obviously a serious juicer and are ready to move up to the level of the citrus challenge.

Can you name tangelo's parents?

If you said the grapefruit and the tangerine, then spray your ear lobes with an orange peel perfume and get ready for the next section, citrus nicknames.

You may call it an orange or even Honeybell, but what are its proper names? If you said that Honeybell is another name for the Minneola, you are on your way to replacing Anita Bryant as Ms. Sunshine or Linus Pauling as Mr. Vitamin C.

If you added that the Minneola is the whopper of tangelos -- a big fella with some seeds -- you might consider running for governor of Florida or California. You appear to be smarter than some of the previous candidates for the post.

Next question: if Honeybell be a tangelo, who be Honey?

Answer: Honey be a tangerine. Honey sometimes travels under the name of Murcott. It is small with seeds and a smooth peel, and it shows up in February and March.

Now we are ready to test your knowledge of the "O" fruit, oranges.

Question: What is the difference between a Valencia and a navel?

Answer: One is thick, one is thin -- skinned that is. The Valencia is the thin-skinned orange, the seedy one often used for juicing. The navel is thick-skinned, seed-free and is the primo eating orange of America.

Question: Where do navels come from?

Answer: Navels dominate California and are a major tourist attraction of Arizona. But over the years navels have been creeping eastward and can now be seen in Florida and have even been spotted in some Gulf Coast states.

Question: Is the temple orange really an orange?

Answer: Yes, no and maybe. In Florida, where temples grow, the Florida Citrus Commission says that this seedy, juicy fruit with an easy-to-peel skin is casually called an orange.

But in the upper reaches of the citrus world the temple is not regarded as a real "round orange," like the Valencia and the navel. It seems somewhere in the temple's genetic closet lurks a tangerine.

Juice from the temple can be added to the fabled Florida elixir known as "orange juice." But legally the amount of temple juice in the "orange juice" mixture can not exceed 10 percent.

In sum, the temple is not a "round orange." It is an elliptical orange.

Question: What are colors, turfs and other information about the bloods?

Answer: Blood oranges get their name from the fact that their flesh is blood red, or at least bloodier-looking than your average orange.

Grown for centuries in Italy, Spain, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, they have come to California. They have a thick, somewhat tart juice that is used in cooking. Three popular varieties of blood oranges are the Tarocco, which looks somewhat like a regular orange; the Moro, which is smaller and redder than the Tarocco; and the Sanguinelli, which traces its roots back to Spain and has streaky red flesh. Blood oranges aren't cheap, running as high as $3 a pound.

Question: What do the squeamish call a blood orange?

Answer: Those who can't stand the word "blood" call the fruit the "Burgundy orange."

Question: What do the cultivated call it?

Answer: Sanguina, sanguine, or sanguinella. That's foreign for ruddy.

Question: With all this commotion about names, varieties and growing regions, is orange juice going to become like wine?

Answer: If things keep going the way they are headed, don't be surprised to see bottles of vintage-dated orange juice with labels reading "a blend of tart 1992 Valencias with a hint of sweet temples." Can "dry" orange juice be far behind?

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