Harvesting, Storing, and Using Navel Oranges
Just when there isn’t much fruit to harvest in the garden, the navel oranges are ripe! Nothing says ‘California’ like a bowl full of bright oranges on your counter! Especially if you have East Coast relatives visiting over the holidays! If you are lucky enough to have an orange tree in your yard, here are some tips for harvesting, storing, and using navel oranges (including my favorite ‘Orange Bread’ recipe, great for Holiday breakfasts!) And if you don’t have an orange tree, buy oranges at the market and then plant a tree this spring!
- Navel oranges ripen from late fall through winter.
- Color is usually bright orange, but sometimes green shades will remain. Taste to determine if sweet enough to pick.
- Fruit does not ripen after it is picked, so taste before you harvest.
- Fruit will store on the tree for about 4 months.
- Pick only what you need and let remaining oranges store on the tree where they will continue to sweeten.
- Oranges will store on the counter for a few days, but store for weeks in the refrigerator.
- Do not store moldy or soft fruit, discard.
- Peel and eat fresh!
- I like to slice a whole orange across the segments and serve slices with strawberries for a colorful side dish for any meal.
- Juice! Navel oranges are grown as eating not juicing oranges, but they still provide tasty juice. It does not store well, though, so juice and drink up! (Plant Valencia oranges for great juicing oranges)
- If you want to store juice for future use in cooking, put juice in ice cube trays and freeze. Store frozen cubes in freezer bags and use in smoothies, sauces, and baking.
- Grate the peel (just the orange part, not the white) and add to baked goods, sauces and salad dressings.
- Make orange marmalade.
My Favorite Orange Bread Recipe
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
Topping: Juice of 1 orange and 1/4 cup sugar
Cream sugar and butter together. Beat in eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk. Add orange peel. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.
Mix topping ingredients and spoon over bread. Leave bread in pan for one hour, then remove and cool completely on cooling rack.