Australia’s diverse climate and position in the Southern Hemisphere provides the ideal conditions needed to produce a variety of citrusfruit all year round.
In the late 1700s the first Australian citrus trees were planted by English settlers in and around Sydney, NSW.
Today, 2000 growers annually produce 600,000 tonnes of high quality citrus fruit.
The most produced citrus varieties are oranges (76%), mandarins (16%) followed by lemons and limes (5.5%) and grapefruit (2.5%).
The industry’s largest growing areas are in the Riverland of South Australia, the Riverina in NSW and the Sunraysia districts along the Murray Valley as well as the Central Burnett region in Queensland.
In the marketplace, consumers have the choice of new and exciting citrus varieties and flavours, from a fresh, juicy navel or imperial mandarin to a succulent red grapefruit. And yes, you can buy grapefruit, lemons and limes all year round. Because of Australia’s location, growers are well placed to provide exceptional tasting citrus from winter through to summer.
Oranges are the most widely known citrus fruit in the world and are high in nutritional benefits. You can either peel and eat an orange, or squeeze it to make juice. It can also be used in recipes as a flavouring or as a garnish.
The most popular product made from oranges is orange juice. Orange juice made with freshly squeezed Australian oranges is widely available across Australia.
HISTORY OF ORANGES
Oranges probably originated around the south-west China and north-west India regions. They have been cultivated around China for several thousand years.
Images of citrus trees were found in the remains of buildings in Pompeii. The illustrations were preserved by the lava from the volcanic eruption that destroyed the city in 79 AD.
Around 1450, oranges were introduced to the Mediterranean basin by Arab traders. The Portuguese then brought better types from China and also took them to Brazil.
In 1788 the First Fleet brought orange, lime and lemon seeds from Brazil to the new colony of New South Wales.
Oranges are grown commercially throughout the world and the top three producing countries are Brazil, the United States and Mexico.
WHERE ORANGES ARE GROWN
HOW TO PICK AN ORANGE
Oranges should be firm, heavy in size and have a fine textured and bright coloured skin.
Skin colour is not a good guide to the quality of the fruit. In summer, Valencia oranges can still be ripe if they are partly green – why? Well, the green colour acts as a natural sunscreen but it does not affect the juicy and sweet flavour.
When picking, always avoid oranges that are bruised, wrinkled or discoloured as this indicates that the fruit is old or has been stored incorrectly.
Citrus fruit peel may vary in thickness and is dependent on the weather conditions during the growing season. However, thin skins tend to be juicer than thick skinned citrus.
Oranges can be stored at room temperature, in the refrigerator without plastic bags or in the crisper drawer for up to two weeks. They do not ripen further after harvest. Freeze or refrigerate freshly squeezed orange juice or grated peel or zest but do not freeze whole citrus fruits.
SQUEEZE MORE OUT OF LIFE
Drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day.
Combine orange juice (made with Australian grown oranges) with other fruits and yoghurt in a blender to make a smoothie at any time of the day.
Cut oranges into wedges and eat them for a snack at anytime of the day.
Carry an orange with you wherever you go, you can just peel and eat at your leisure.
Use orange juice to prevent other cut fruits from browning.
Add orange zest to your recipes to create an exciting flavour!
For some more great recipes using Australian oranges, click here.