Orange, Lemon & other Citrus (About)



By Cat, Feb 2013 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

There are several varieties of orange, with naval and Valencia being the most common. Other common varieties are blood orange (reddish flesh), mandarin orange (which includes my most favorite at Holiday time – the Satsuma), and bitter orange.

Nutritional Benefits

All varieties of orange are rich in vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, flavonoids, fiber, and hydroxyapatite (a combination of calcium and phosphorous, believed to be good for bone health). They are also good sources of the B-vitamins folate, thiamin, and pantothenic acid; and carotenes (these vary among the orange varieties, from yellow to red).

But the benefits are not limited to oranges; other citrus, for example: mandarin orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, and grapefruit, also have similar plus additional benefits (see Lemon section, below, for two lists of lemon’s benefits).

One of the most beneficial parts of citrus fruit is the peel. They are bitter in flavor, so many people don’t like them; however, I find that fermenting citrus – pulp, pith and peel – with honey greatly improves the flavor.

It isn’t just the flesh and juice that provide benefits, but also the zest and pith which comprise the peel. The peel provides potassium, riboflavin, carotenes (including vitamin A), and flavones (powerful anti-oxidants). (2, 4, 5, 6)

Valencia vs Navel Orange

Naval orange

Naval orange

There are several varieties of orange, with naval and Valencia being the most common. Other common varieties are blood orange (reddish flesh), mandarin orange (which includes my most favorite at Holiday time – the Satsuma), and bitter orange.

The easiest way to tell naval and Valencia oranges apart is the ‘belly button’ at one end of the naval orange (at the end opposite the stem or blossom). Valencias don’t have this. But just what is that ‘navel’? (Photo, left, from The Fruit Guys (2))

Each navel orange is actually two twins. The larger twin is the orange; the tiny undeveloped twin is what is just underneath that naval. Naval oranges are infertile and have no seeds; the only way to propagate a new naval orange tree is by cutting and grafting a branch from another tree onto root stock. Thus each naval orange tree and its fruit is a clone of the original naval orange mutation from the early 1800s.

Naval oranges are also called “winter oranges” because they ripen during the cold months (November through April) in the US; most are grown in California. They have thick, easy to peel skins, are not as juicy as other varieties, and are amongst the sweetest of orange varieties.

Valencias were first brought to the Americas from Valencia, Spain; hence their name. However, they are believed to have originated in Asia. They are fertile oranges and contain seeds. They do not have a tiny undeveloped twin inside the main fruit.

Because they ripen in late spring and throughout the summer, from March to September, they are sometimes called “summer oranges.” Most are grown in Florida. They have thin skins that are a bit harder to remove than for navals, and are not as sweet. Valencias are grown primarily for their abundance of juice, and secondarily because they ripen in the late season, after the navals are spent.

Mandarin Orange

Satsuma (Mandarin) oranges

Satsuma (Mandarin) oranges

(Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Mandarins are a very old species, one of the ancestors of the modern sweet oranges. My favorite is the Satsuma – both for the ease of peeling one and the sweetness of the fruit. Like their cousin the Clementine, Satsumas are available during the Holiday season in the US. Another variety is the tangerine.

Mandarins are the most common canned orange (peeled and sectioned).




(Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons) There are two common types of lemon (7):

  • Meyer: sweeter with a hint of tangerine, juicier, darker in color (slightly orange), and more round in shape. It may flower and bear fruit twice a year.
  • Eureka: more tart, lighter in color (more yellow or greenish yellow), and elongated shape; it bears fruit year-round, and is the most common variety found in grocery stores and markets, year-round.

Real Food for Life (8) has a 16-item list of all the health benefits of lemons, from which I’ve chosen a few of interest to me; note that both the pulp and the peel of citrus have health benefits:

  1. Alkalizing for the body: Lemons (and other citrus) are acidic to begin with but they are alkaline forming on body fluids helping to restore balance to the body’s pH. According to The Reams Biological Ionization Theory (RBTI),the lemon is the ONLY food in the world that is Anionic(negative charge). All other foods are cationic (positive charge). This makes it extremely useful to health as it is the interaction between anions and cations that ultimately provides all cell energy.
  2. Your liver loves lemons: “The lemon is a wonderful stimulant to the liver and is a dissolvent of uric acid and other poisons, liquefies the bile” says Back to Eden Mr. Kloss. Fresh lemon juice added to a large glass of water in the morning is a great liver detoxifier.
  3. Dissolves mineral deposits in the body: The citric acid in lemon juice helps to dissolve gallstones, calcium deposits, and kidney stones.
  4. Helping with brain disorders such as Parkinson’s: the flavonoid, tangeretin (in the peel of all citrus), is the active ingredient.
  5. Powerful antibacterial/anti-viral properties: experiments have found the juice of lemons destroy the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases. Vitamin C and flavonoids work against infections like colds and flues.

Sayer Ji (© 7/31/19 GreenMedInfo LLC) sites additional benefits in his article, “Lemon: 12-Evidence Based Health Benefits,” of which I’ve chosen those of interest to me. See his article (9) for more detail, and for his references (shown in brackets, as [6], etc. below):

  1. Dissolve Kidney Stones:  Lemonade therapy appears to be a reasonable alternative for patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis (a type of kidney stone).[6] [7]
  2. Reduce Inflammation:  Lemon mucilage has significant in vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory effects.[8]
  3. Protect Your Heart: Lemon juice antioxidant and cardioprotective properties. [9]
  4. Protect Against Cholera: Lemon juice is a biocide against Vibrio cholerae, the pathogen that can cause cholera.[10]
  5. Help Lift Your Mood and Reduce Anxiety: Lemon oil possesses anxiety relieving (anxiolytic), antidepressant-like via modulation of neurotransmitters.[12]
  6. Help You Maintain An Ideal Weight: Lemon peel polyphenols suppress diet-induced obesity, hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia and insulin resistance.[13]

A friend told me about frozen lemon water, which she claims is more healthful than regular lemon water because “freezing the peel causes chemical changes that are more beneficial than when not frozen.” The result is alkalizing for the body and may fight cancer. The method she uses is as follows (she didn’t tell me ratio of lemon to water):

  1. Freeze the whole lemon(s)
  2. Add to water in a blender, and blend until the lemon is all broken up.
  3. Serve with or without ice.

See also:  Preserved Lemon (Lacto-Fermented) and Fermented Orange or Other Citrus

How to Section an Orange (or Other Citrus), without pith and Membranes

When a recipe calls for orange sections, do you buy a can of mandarine orange sections rather than cutting up a fresh orange? When you do cut up a fresh orange, do you have trouble removing the pith or membranes? If so, you may want to give this a try. It is a bit tedious – especially removing the peel and pith – but it does work.

These instructions are from a Fine Cooking recipe, by Janet Fletcher, Rosetta Costantino (1)

  1. Cut off both ends of orange; stand it up on one end.
  2. Using sharp paring knife, cut off peel and pith, following curves of orange.
  3. Working over a bowl, cut each section free of its membrane (slice right next to membrane on both sides, and remove section).
  4. When all sections are removed, squeeze what remains of the orange to release juice.  Keep sections in juice until ready to use.


  1. Fine Cooking:
  2. Fruit Guys:
  3. Wikipedia:
  4. SFGate, Healthy Eating:
  5. World’s Healthiest Foods:
  6. Livestrong:
  7. Four Winds Growers on lemons:
  8. Real Food for Life on lemons and other citrus:
  9. Green Med Info:; the following are his references for the items I list in this post (his ref numbers are in brackets)

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