What’s the best way to start your morning? A healthy breakfast, a perfect cup of coffee or tea? For me, it’s a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Bright orange, slightly sweet, and served cold—so delicious!!
It's one of my favorite things when traveling in Spain. Regardless of where you are, a café in Madrid or Barcelona, or a bar in a tiny village, they all have a shiny, stainless steel machine for juicing oranges. Seriously, sometimes these things are huge, with arms that lift and halve the fruit, then squeeze it. Sweet, golden juice pours right into your glass. Heavenly!
Squeezing your own fresh orange juice at home is simple, healthy, and can I even say, meditative? I use an electric citrus juicer—nothing fancy. I put an orange half on each of the two cones, close the lid and press down… the machine whirs and the fresh, strained juice streams into the cup. Lift the lid, discard the empty rinds, put two more halves on, and repeat. It only takes about 6 oranges to make a large glass of juice.
Of course, you can use a fancier machine—one that extracts juice from the whole fruit (or veggie), and if you already own one, great. But the model I use is simple and affordable—compact and made of plastic, it only works on citrus. It cost about $45, and I’ve used it biweekly for several years. (https://www.amazon.com/CUH-Double-Orange-Separator-Whisper/dp/B00W5AAI0K/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 ).
The type of oranges you use matters—Valencias (“juice oranges”) are best; avoid navels—(see Note, below). Valencias are in season from April through December. They’re typically small to medium size, with thin skin, few seeds and lots of juice. Because they remain on the tree longer than navels, they tend be very sweet.
Every two weeks during the season, I buy a twenty-pound bag of oranges at the farmers’ market. At home I dump them into a sink full of water and rub each one clean before squeezing. A bag this size makes about 4 or 5 quarts of juice. Some goes into a pitcher in the refrigerator for the week; the rest goes into my handy-dandy canning jars to freeze.
While you can buy decent orange juice not made from concentrate at the grocery store, nothing beats juice you squeezed fresh yourself!
-Citrus fruits contain a substance called LARL. As the fruit is juiced the LARL produces a phytonutrient called limonin, which tastes bitter. The higher the LARL, and the longer it sits, the more bitter the juice will become. Valencia oranges stay on the trees longer than navels, resulting in a lower LARL. So the juice stays sweet after juicing. Conclusion: don’t juice navel oranges unless you plan to drink it immediately.
-No worries if your oranges look green. As the fruit stays on the tree during warmer weather late in the season, the orange skin produces chlorophyll, and can turn green. The fruit is still ripe and sweet.
-Valencias were originally grown in Orange County (hence the name), California, where I grew up. Our neighborhood was surrounded by orange groves, and I vividly remember playing in the groves and the sweet fragrance of trees blooming in the spring. Unfortunately, there are few groves left now. In the 1990s rising property values in southern California displaced the orange industry to Florida, Arizona and Texas.