Can navel oranges be used for juice?

Oranges are one of the most popular fruits around the world. There are many different varieties of oranges, but some of the most common are navel oranges, Valencia oranges, blood oranges, and cara cara oranges. Each type has its own unique flavor profile, texture, and best uses.

Introduction to Navel Oranges

Navel oranges are distinguished by the small secondary fruit that grows opposite the stem, which looks like a human navel. They have thick, easy-to-peel skin and are usually seedless. The flesh is juicy, sweet, and has low acidity compared to other orange varieties.

Navel oranges originated in Brazil and were brought to California in the 1870s. They are now one of the most widely grown oranges in California, Florida, and Australia. The navel orange season runs from winter through early spring.

Popular navel orange varieties include Washington, Cara Cara, Lane Late, and Robertson.

Nutrition Facts of Navel Oranges

Navel oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing over 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) in one medium fruit (154g). They also contain good amounts of thiamin, folate, potassium, and antioxidant polyphenols.

Nutrient Amount in 154g Navel Orange % Daily Value
Calories 69 3%
Carbohydrates 15g 5%
Fiber 3g 11%
Vitamin C 117mg 131%
Thiamin 0.1mg 9%
Folate 30mcg 8%
Potassium 232mg 7%

Flavor Profile of Navel Oranges

Navel oranges are prized for their sweet and juicy flavor. They have moderate acidity which gives them a nice balanced citrus taste. The flavor has been described as tangy, zesty, and honey-like.

Here are some key flavor notes in navel oranges:

  • Sweetness – Navel oranges have a robust natural sugar content leading to a pleasing sweetness.
  • Tartness – They have a moderately tart, citrusy acidity that complements the sweetness.
  • Juiciness – Abundant juice with each bite contributes refreshing moisture.
  • Low bitterness – Minimal bitter notes allow the sweet flavors to come through.
  • Mild astringency – A slight drying sensation helps cleanse the palate.
  • Citrus aroma – Bright, orangey citrus fragrance.

The specific flavor profile can vary somewhat between navel orange varieties. For example, Cara Caras are known for their candy-like sweetness while Lane Lates have more pronounced acidity. But overall they share a signature navel orange zestiness.

Uses for Navel Oranges

Navel oranges are extremely versatile fruits that can be used in many ways:

  • Eating Fresh – Their easy-to-peel skin makes navels ideal for eating out of hand as a healthy snack or dessert.
  • Juicing – Navel oranges produce abundant sweet, tangy juice perfect for drinking on its own or using in recipes.
  • Adding to Drinks – Freshly squeezed navel orange juice can be added to smoothies, cocktails, lemonade, and tea.
  • Salads – Orange segments add brightness and flavor to green, grain, pasta, and fruit salads.
  • Marinades and Dressings – Navel orange juice and zest can be used to make flavorful citrus-based marinades and vinaigrettes.
  • Baked Goods – Their sweetness and moisture make navels ideal for cakes, cookies, muffins, scones, and breads.
  • Preserves – Navel oranges can be turned into jams, marmalades, and curds to enjoy their flavor year-round.
  • Garnishes – Strips of navel peel or wheels make beautiful garnishes for drinks, desserts, and savory dishes.

Are Navel Oranges Good for Juicing?

Yes, navel oranges make excellent orange juice! Here are some of the reasons why navels work so well for fresh-squeezed juice:

  • High juice content – Navels are very juicy, producing up to 50% of their weight in juice.
  • Sweet flavor – The natural sugars give fresh navel orange juice a delicious sweet taste.
  • Low acidity – Their moderate acidity results in a smooth, mellow juice that isn’t too tart.
  • Aromatic – Navel juice captures the vibrant orange aroma that makes orange juice so refreshing.
  • Pulp-free – Most navels are seedless so the juice is pulp-free without the need for straining.
  • Easy preparation – Navels are simple to peel and segment for juice extraction.
  • Nutritious – Fresh navel OJ provides an excellent source of vitamin C and other nutrients.

Navel orange juice has a brighter, fruitier flavor compared to the flatter, tinnier juice produced by Valencia oranges. It also has a thicker, richer texture and appearance. For these reasons, navel orange juice is a popular choice for homemade orange juice as well as for commercial not-from-concentrate juices.

Best Navel Varieties for Juicing

While most navel oranges are good for juicing, some varieties stand out for producing top quality OJ. The best navels for juicing include:

  • Cara Cara – Very sweet, intense orange flavor with beautiful pink flesh.
  • Washington – Classic navel with excellent juice yield and quality.
  • Lane Late – Exceptionally juicy and flavorful.
  • Newhall – Consistently high juice content and sweet-tart flavor.

How to Make Navel Orange Juice

Making delicious fresh orange juice with navel oranges is simple. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Wash the oranges thoroughly under cool running water to remove dirt and residues.
  2. Cut the oranges in half crosswise through the center.
  3. Squeeze each half by hand or use a juicer, straining the juice into a container.
  4. For maximum yield, ream the juiced halves against a mesh strainer.
  5. If desired, add a bit of water to dilute and adjust the flavor.
  6. Add sweetener if desired, then mix well and chill before serving.
  7. Drink immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

You can leave the fresh orange juice plain or dress it up by adding mint, lemon, lime, ginger, cinnamon, or other ingredients. It can also be used to make delicious juices, smoothies, cocktails, and beyond!

Nutrition Benefits of Navel Orange Juice

Drinking navel orange juice provides many excellent nutritional benefits, including:

  • Vitamin C – A 1 cup serving contains over 100% of the RDI of immune-boosting vitamin C.
  • Potassium – Provides potassium to help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure.
  • Folate – A good source of folate, which aids new cell production.
  • Antioxidants – Contains antioxidant compounds like hesperidin that reduce oxidative stress.
  • Phytochemicals – Beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols are present.
  • Low calorie – Contains just 112 calories per cup, making it a slimming drink choice.
  • Hydrating – The liquid replenishes fluids and electrolytes post-workout.

In addition to benefits from specific nutrients, orange juice provides bioactive compounds that support overall health. Research suggests the nutrients and phytochemicals in citrus juice help protect against chronic diseases.

Storage Tips for Navel Orange Juice

To retain the best flavor and nutrition in navel orange juice, follow these storage guidelines:

  • Refrigerate immediately after juicing. The cold temperature preserves quality.
  • Store in an airtight container to minimize air exposure and prevent oxidation.
  • Glass or BPA-free plastic provides the best storage vessels.
  • Consume within 2-3 days for maximum freshness.
  • Freeze excess juice in ice cube trays or freezer bags for later use within 6 months.
  • Prevent light exposure by using an opaque container or wrapping the container.
  • If separation occurs, gently shake or stir juice before drinking to remix.

With proper storage in the refrigerator or freezer, you can enjoy fresh, delicious navel orange juice for days to come after juicing. The cold temperatures help lock in the bright citrus flavor and nutrition.


Navel oranges are an ideal citrus variety for making fresh-squeezed orange juice at home. Their naturally sweet and moderately tart flavor results in juice with an appetizing balance of sweetness and acidity. Navels are very juicy, seedless, easy to peel and segment, and contain abundant nutrients like vitamin C. Varieties like Cara Cara, Washington, and Lane Late are especially recommended for their outstanding juice quality.

Fresh navel orange juice can be enjoyed on its own as a beverage or incorporated into smoothies, cocktails, marinades, baked goods, and other recipes. Proper refrigeration and storage keeps homemade juice refreshing and nutritious for up to 3 days. With their stellar flavor and nutrition, navel oranges are clearly one of the best choices for crafting homemade OJ.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *