Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Orange: Yummy Fruits A-Z

Oranges. If you have never eaten an orange, I'll bet a bottle of vitamin C you have had orange juice. Oranges, next to apples, are probably the most common fruit around, and it is hard for me to talk about oranges without adding a personal note from my past. 

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (the Tacoma-Seattle area) in a blue-collar family of five in the 1960s. Dad was self-employed and Mom worked part-time in retail. Mom had a strict food budget in those days....$100 a month, which was not much, even then, but she knew how to stretch a dollar. She filled our freezer full with loaves of day-old bread, chicken, and other meat on sale. Dad fished in his spare time and the family went clam-digging and oyster hunting every season. Fruit (also vegetables and eggs) came from my grandparent's farm, where apples, pears, raspberries, and rhubarb grew in abundance. Mom faithfully canned most of this fruit.

(That's me on left with my dad,
baby sister and brother)
Oranges, on the other hand, were a special treat. I do not think they were available year round. Mom bought a huge bag (I'm guessing a 5-10 pound bag) at the first of the month, and by the end of that month I was craving oranges again. My favorite way to eat an orange was to cut a whole on top and squeeze out all the juice (like the mango I described yesterday). After, I would rip the orange apart and eat the flesh. I even ate the white pulp on the inside of the rind. I was pretty skinny in those days and ate like my dad, Mom said. He had the appetite of a horse!

So....back to the subject of oranges. Their origin is somewhat vague. Southeast Asia, northeastern India, or southern China are the most likely regions. Researchers know that oranges were first cultivated in China around 2500 BC. In the 11th century, oranges appeared in Italy, where they were used to treat illness. (I'm thinking the common cold here). By the late 15th century, oranges had become an edible fruit in the Mediterranean area.  

Oranges were introduced to America in the mid-1500s by Spanish explorers. Christopher Columbus supposedly brought orange seeds on his second voyage. Today Brazil and the U.S. (California and Florida) are the top producers of oranges, but they are grown elsewhere around the world and there are many varieties.

Most people know about the high content of vitamin C in oranges, but there is plenty more to applaud this healthy fruit. Here is a brief list: reduced risk of colon cancer; reduced inflammation conditions (e.g. asthma and osteoarthritis); increased immunity; reduced heart disease, strokes and other cancers.....and reduced cholesterol. Research has shown that oranges could lower levels as effectively as statins in some individual. The secret ingredient? The compounds in the orange peel called PMFs. The orange peel claim is new to me. The recommended dose is one tablespoon grated orange peel a day. Anyone else heard of this?     

Orange Recipe

"Orange-Chocolate Delight"

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 cups milk (1-2% fat), divided
3 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso
(note: 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso added to 3 tablespoons boiling water can be substituted).
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel (or orange zest)

--In medium saucepan mix cocoa and sugar together. Add 1 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add espresso, cinnamon, and 1 cup more milk (reserve 1/4 cup for later). Heat and stir mixture over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. 
--Pour mixture into ice cube tray (leave dividers in place). Freeze for at least 8 hours.
--Remove frozen cubes from tray, place in food processor, add 1/4 cup remaining milk, and process until smooth. Add grated orange peel, mix lightly and serve at once. Yield: 4-6 servings
(This recipe is a bit complicated but so worth it!) 

Orange Jokes

Q: What does an orange sweat?
A: Orange juice!

Q: What did the apple 
say to the orange?

A: Nothing. Apples don't talk!

Orange Books

--Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman (2011)


--Under the Orange Moon 
by Adrienne Frances (2014)

--It's an Orange Aardvark! 
by Michel Hall (2014) (picture book)

by John McPhee (1975) (nonfiction)

--The Big Orange Splot 
by D. Manus Pinkwater and Daniel Manus Pinkwater (1993) (picture book)

--Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide
by Reggie Joiner (2009) (nonfiction)

--A Clockwork Orange 
by Anthony Burgess (1995)

Orange Movies

--Orange County (2002)
(comedy/drama; guidance counselor sends out wrong transcripts to Standford)

--Oranges and Sunshine 
(drama/history; 1980s; British social worker tries to reunite children w/parents)

--Orange Love Story (2005) (Stories of love from a small town point of view; Australian)

--Soldier of Orange (1977) 
(Drama; WWII changes the lives of a group of
Dutch law students)

--A Clockwork Orange (1971)
(story of sociopathic delinquent in
dystopian future Britain)



  1. I remember getting an orange in my stocking at Christmas.

    1. Same here, but with nuts and candy too!

  2. I love oranges and orange juice and couldn't live without it. Chocolate tastes great with orange. My mom always told me how, at Christmas, each child received a whole orange. Other times of the year-they would get an orange but had to split the orange between the 4 kids and it may have happened 3 or 4 times per year. People, in our neck of the woods , are so lucky

    1. Whoa....split between her siblings only 3 or 4 times a year. Reminds of stories Dickens liked to tell. I'm thankful for the availability of oranges!

  3. I grew up in Orange County...

    Did you know that the color orange was named after the fruit?

    1. No, I did not know this! But it DOES make sense. Thanks, Liz.

  4. So, you got me with the apple joke. But then, I am gullible.
    Ah, fragrant, delicious, juicy oranges! They were hard to come by in a post-war Europe. Since I came to the US, I have been making up for that lack with great gusto.

    1. Ha-ha. Glad you can enjoy oranges today :)

  5. Hi Sharon, Your post on nutmeg is just fascinating. I had no idea that nutmeg was a fruit and who would have guessed that both the spice, nutmeg, and mace came from the same plant. I am curious what the taste would be like, but since I haven't had much luck finding an ice cream plant to purchase, I don't imagine I'll have any more luck with the nutmeg plant. I love that photo of you with your family. What a cute young girl. Oranges are a family favorite here too. I always thought they were indigenous to Florida. Well I guess they are now, but I had no idea that that was a transplant. Another reason to thank Columbus. Enjoying my visit through the A to Z challenge. Thanks Sharon. God bless, Maria,

    1. I learned a lot myself from the nutmeg post. Those ice cream plants almost sound like something from another world...really gotta try. I lost my dad in my thirties, so that photo means a lot to me! Thanks, Maria!

  6. What a sweet picture of you and your siblings and father! That was a cute story you shared about oranges. One of my favorite fruits are oranges; I remember at Christmas we would get a big orange and a big apple in our stockings along with nuts, candy, little toys; always a treat for that big orange. LOL I saw the movies with Orange in it; thought Orange County was soooo funny way back then :)


    1. Thank you. Pretty sad my dad missed out on so much life. He died way too young. Your Christmas stocking was a lot like mine. Kids today take fruit for granted, but I'm glad we can eat it all year long. Neat you saw those movies--I never saw one!


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