Or should we say that Plucky is visiting his California Cousins? There are many types of Navel oranges and they are grown in many places.
The original navel orange was the result of the mutation of a common sweet orange growing in an orchard at a monastery in Brazil in 1820. A cutting from that tree was sent to Washington, D.C., in 1870 for propagation. As a result, the original navel orange variety came to be called the Washington navel orange.
In the late nineteenth century, Washington navel oranges were distributed around the United States for general cultivation. They were so well suited for the California climate that they spawned the California citrus industry. The navel orange is the most commonly grown orange in California today.
The Washington navel orange ripens from fall into winter, and the fruit will keep on the tree for 3 to 4 months. Other navel orange varieties are sports or mutations of the original Washington. When plant mutations result in desirable traits, they are often developed by growers into separate varieties.
Navel oranges are amongst some of the most prized oranges available. They have a long growing season and are juicy and delicious. Their thick skin allows for great zesting, which means grating the peel. Many culinary applications call for orange or other citrus zest, and the more peel you get, the better the chance of you flavoring your dish properly. The thick peel also means less of the bitter white pith underneath when you zest an orange, which could ruin the taste of your dish.
Though most just think of navel oranges generically, the truth is that they are actually quite diverse in size. In fact, not only are there small, medium and large navel oranges available (depending on the growing season and what time of year we are talking about), there are also two different varieties of navel oranges.
Here is a list of a few of Plucky’s relatives:
Cara Cara: (sometimes called Red Navel) a navel orange with a flavorful, juicy pink flesh. Cara Cara is sweet and mildly acidic. Its flavor is reminiscent of strawberries and raspberries.
Fukumoto: a sweet and juicy navel with a reddish-orange rind. This is a medium-sized orange that ripens about one week before the Washington.
Lane Late: similar to the Washington but has a smaller navel and smoother skin. This variety was discovered in Australia in 1950. Lane Late ripens 4 to 6 weeks later than the Washington. The Lane Late is sometimes called a summer navel.
Riverside: this navel orange is the original Washington navel orange by a different name. A cutting of the Washington was sent to Riverside, California in 1870. This was the Washington orange that started commercial orange growing in California. (Bahai is yet another name for the Washington and Riverside navel orange. Bahia is the region of Brazil where the original Washington was discovered.)
Robertson: has medium-large fruit just like the Washington but this variety ripens 2 to 3 weeks earlier than the Washington. The Robertson, which is moderately juicy, bears its fruit in clusters.
Skaggs Bonanza: is a medium-large to large navel orange that bears more fruit than the Washington and ripens 2 weeks earlier. Skaggs Bonanza has a rich and sweet flavor and is moderately juicy
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