Oranges in Spain
Oranges are without any doubt the most important citrus crop in the world and Spain produces a vast amount.
In general, oranges in their various forms, like other citrus, thrive in semitropical regions such as Florida and subtropical regions such as California and the Mediterranean. Spain produces a variety of oranges ranging from the bitter Seville oranges to the sweet clementine.
The region that produces the most oranges in Spain is Valencia, so much so that the region has attracted the name "The Orchard of Spain". Sweet oranges are grown in well irrigated groves near the coastline. In the summer the air is filled with the heavy scent of orange blossom.
One interesting fact about oranges is that there are 600 types of them which are classified into three broad classes; sweet, bitter/sour and loose skinned.
Sweet Variety(Citrus sinensis): This variety is used for eating fresh, making juices and also used in tarts, salads, etc. Blood Oranges, Navel Oranges and Valencia Oranges are common sweet orange varieties. Blood Oranges are red in color due to the anthocyanin pigment present in them. Naval Oranges are large and mostly seedless, easy to peel and separate while Valencia Orange variety features none to six seeds in the carpels. Valencia variety is popular in the US, as about 50% of Florida's orange crop is this variety.
Sour Variety (Citrus aurantium): This variety is bitter to taste and is seldom eaten fresh. Cultivation of this variety is done largely in South Africa for making marmalade. However, these fruits are also exported to England and Scotland for conversion to marmalade. The juice of this fruit is used as a flavoring agent to cook fish and in parts of Egypt, it has been used for wine-making. Bergamot orange is the prominent species of this sour variety.
Loose Skinned Variety(Citrus reticulata): This variety is quite popular in India and can range in taste from sweet to tart. These oranges are part of the Mandarin family. Mandarin oranges are not really oranges, however, they come under the same genus. These are smaller in size with easily peeling skin. Clementine Orange is a hybrid of this variety, which is deep orange in color and mostly seedless. Tangerine is also a variety of Mandarin Orange and is pebbly-skinned and heavy for its size.