Can you use navel oranges for orange juice?

Navel oranges are one of the most popular varieties of oranges. Their unique shape, with a small secondary fruit forming opposite the stem end that resembles a human navel, makes them instantly recognizable. But how do they taste, and can you use navel oranges to make delicious orange juice?

What are Navel Oranges?

Navel oranges are a seedless variety that originated as a mutation in Brazil in the early 19th century. They are called navel oranges because of the small secondary fruit that grows opposite the stem end, making them look like they have a navel. The navel is usually quite small and may fall off with handling. Apart from the navel formation, navel oranges look similar to other common oranges with thick, textured skin that ranges in color from yellow to orange.

There are several popular varieties of navel oranges including Washington, Cara Cara, Thomson, and Lane Late. Washington navels are one of the most widely grown. They have bright orange rinds with a distinct navel end. The flesh is sweet, seedless, and reddish-orange in color. Cara Caras are a type of navel orange that have pink flesh rather than orange. Thomson navels have a more yellow rind and flesh that is darker orange. Lane Lates ripen later in the citrus season and are valued for their flavor and juiciness.

Navel oranges thrive in climates with mild winters and hot summers and require abundant sunshine and water. Major producers of navel oranges include the United States (California and Arizona), Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. In the U.S., the navel orange season runs from winter through early spring.

Nutrition Facts of Navel Oranges

Like other oranges, navel oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and other important nutrients. One medium navel orange (131g) contains:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 69
Carbohydrates 16.4g
Fiber 3.4g
Protein 1.4g
Vitamin C 78.5mg
Folate 38mcg
Potassium 256mg

Navel oranges are fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. The vitamin C content is particularly noteworthy, providing over 100% of the recommended daily allowance in just one medium fruit. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant to boost immune health and promote healthy skin. Navel oranges also provide folate, potassium, thiamin, and other important vitamins and minerals.

Flavor and Texture

Navel oranges are considered one of the best tasting orange varieties. They have a vibrant, sweet, and complex flavor that has notes of vanilla and honey. The flavor is often described as richer and sweeter than regular orange varieties. The texture of the segments is tender and juicy without an excess of seeds or a watery mouthfeel.

The rind of navel oranges tends to be thicker than that of other oranges, which helps lock in more of the natural juices. Even after peeling, the citrus flavor really pops. Many people enjoy eating navel oranges out of hand as a snack or adding them to fruit salads. Their sweet flavor also enhances recipes from orange chicken to seafood dishes.

Using Navel Oranges for Juice

The rich, vibrant flavor and high juice content of navel oranges make them an ideal variety for fresh squeezed orange juice. While you can use any sweet, juicy oranges, navel oranges hit the right notes for flavor and nutrition in orange juice.

To make orange juice from navel oranges:

  1. Wash the oranges and roll them on a hard surface or squeeze gently to soften them up before juicing. This helps release more of the juice.
  2. Depending on the size of the oranges, cut them in half or into quarters to fit into your juicer feed tube.
  3. Juice the oranges, collecting the fresh squeezed juice in a pitcher or bottle.
  4. Pour into glasses over ice and enjoy immediately.

Navel orange juice has a creamy, velvety texture and rich orange flavor. It’s delicious on its own or mixed into sparkling water, smoothies, cocktails, and dressings. Freshly squeezed orange juice has the most vitamins and antioxidants, so drink it as soon as possible. If storing, keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

How Navel Oranges Compare to Other Orange Varieties for Juice

Navel oranges have qualities that make them ideal for juicing, but how do they compare to some other common orange varieties? Here’s a quick look at how some popular oranges compare when used for fresh squeezed juice:

Orange Variety Juice Characteristics
Navel Rich, sweet, vibrant orange flavor; thick, silky texture; high juice content
Valencia Bright, tangy, citrusy flavor; thinner texture; good juice yield
Cara Cara Sweet and mildly acidic flavor; pink juice color; lower juice content
Blood orange Tart cherry-like flavor; dramatic dark red color; moderate juice content

As you can see, navel oranges have qualities that make them a particularly good choice for juice. Their unbeatable flavor and texture profile outshines other varieties when used for orange juice. Of course, experimenting with different types of oranges like blood oranges or Cara Caras can create unique and tasty juice blends.

Tips for Getting the Most Juice from Navel Oranges

Follow these tips to maximize the amount of fresh juice you get from your navel oranges:

  • Roll the oranges – Press down and roll the oranges firmly on a hard surface before juicing. This loosens up the juice inside.
  • Juice at room temperature – Let refrigerated oranges come up to room temp before juicing for highest yield.
  • Squeeze the pulp – After juicing, squeeze or twist the dry pulp to extract any remaining juice.
  • Use a slow juicer – Masticating juicers that crush and press the oranges get more juice than fast centrifugal models.
  • Don’t store for long – Drink the juice as soon as possible. The longer it sits, the more nutrients are lost.

Following these simple tips will help you get the maximum fresh, flavorful orange juice out of your navel oranges.

Potential Downsides of Navel Oranges for Juice

Navel oranges have a lot going for them when it comes to making fresh juice, but there are a couple potential downsides to be aware of:

  • Lower yield – Their thick rinds mean slightly lower juice yields per orange compared to thin-skinned varieties.
  • More expensive – As a specialty fruit, navel oranges tend to cost more than standard oranges.
  • Shorter season – The navel orange harvest is limited to winter and spring months.

However, many people feel the incredible flavor and silky texture of navel orange juice is worth the extra effort and cost. When navels are in season, take advantage and turn them into the best homemade orange juice you’ve ever tasted.

Storing Navel Oranges

Proper storage is important for keeping navel oranges fresh and juicy. Here are some tips for storing navels:

  • Keep oranges loose, not in sealed plastic bags which can trap moisture and promote spoilage.
  • Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer. The cold environment helps slow moisture loss and mold growth.
  • Citrus like humidity, so keep navels in a humid environment like the crisper drawer.
  • Handle gently to avoid bruising the rind which makes spoilage more likely.
  • Use within 2-3 weeks for best quality and flavor.

With proper refrigerated storage, navel oranges will retain their freshness and juice content for juice making.

Enjoying the Natural Sweetness

Navel oranges offer so much to love – a kid-friendly fruit with a neat shape, peelable rind, sweet juicy flesh, and that unmistakable vibrant orange flavor. Whether eaten out of hand, tossed into a salad, or juiced, navel oranges bring natural sweetness and nutrients to the table. Their tender, juicy texture and rich citrus taste make navel oranges a prized variety for freshly squeezed orange juice. So next time you see navels at the market, grab a few bags and enjoy their delicious sweetness.


Navel oranges are an excellent choice for making fresh, homemade orange juice. Their rich orange flavor, velvety texture, high juice content, and lack of seeds make them ideal for juicing. While all orange varieties can produce good juice, navel oranges really shine. Their sweetness and refreshing flavor profile creates a juice experience that’s hard to beat. Just be prepared for some extra effort with peeling their thick rinds and try to juice them when navels are at peak season through winter and spring. With a few oranges, a good juicer, and little time and effort, you can turn navels into a glass of sunshine that will brighten your day.

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