Citrus fruits are at their peak from late winter through spring, like a harbinger of the changing of seasons and return of the sun. With so many types and varieties available, we narrowed down the list to the most common and the types most likely to get confused. Though the specific nutritional content will vary, citrus fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C and contain diverse phytochemicals, including carotenoids, lutein, and flavonoids.
Navel Oranges: You can easily distinguish navel oranges from other oranges by their trademark “navel” on the fruit’s blossom end, which is actually an undeveloped second “twin” fruit opposite its stem. Navel oranges are a hybrid of pomelos and mandarins. With their easy to peel skin and no seeds, navel oranges are perfect for snacking.
Blood Orange: Blood oranges are a variety of navel oranges with a bright crimson flesh. There are several varieties of blood oranges, Moro being the type most commonly in stores. Because of its unique color, the blood orange is often incorporated into recipes from sauces to cocktails to preserves. They are quite juicy and bursting with sweet-tart flavor.
Cara Cara: Another variety of navel orange, cara cara oranges feature a pink flesh that is sweet and juicy. They have a lower acidity than other navel oranges.
Valencia Oranges: Valencia oranges are prized for their sweet, juicy flesh, making them the go-to for juicing. They are in season when navels are not, making them a suitable snacking substitution as well.
Mandarins: Mandarins are a type of orange and the overarching category that tangerines, clementines, and
satsumas fall into. There are several mandarin varieties native to the East that, along with pomelos, are the original citrus species from which the rest of cultivated citrus has been hybridized. However, many mandarins found in stores today are hybrids as well. They are generally smaller and sweeter than oranges, flatter in shape, and have a thinner, looser peel that is easier to peel.
Tangerines: A specific type of mandarin with a bright orange color and slighter tougher skins. They are less sweet and more tart.
Clementines: These are the smallest type of mandarin orange and are a favorite for snacking, thanks to their sweet, seedless, and easy to peel attributes.
Satsuma: Satsumas are a specific type of mandarin originating out of Japan more than 700 years ago. Another favorite for snacking, they are arguably the easiest to peel, though also the most tender and easily damaged variety of mandarin.
Grapefruit: A breakfast staple for many, grapefruit features a relatively sour to semi-sweet and sometimes bitter flesh. Grapefruit is a citrus hybrid originated in Barbados as an accidental cross between sweet orange and pomelo. Its segmented interior ranges in color from white to yellow to red and pink. It's “grape” name may refer to how the clusters of fruit grow similar in appearance to grape clusters.
Pomelo: Native to South Asia, the pomelo is one of the original citrus species from which the rest of cultivated citrus has been hybridized. With a thick skin and a white to pink flesh, a pomelo's flavor features the sweet of the orange and the tart of the grapefruit.