What are orange and green doing

I see! That is why green oranges can also be ripe

The color of the peel of oranges says nothing about the ripeness of the fruit. Most of the oranges that end up in our fruit bowls are not orange at all in their countries of origin, but green to yellow. Here you can find out why green oranges are also ripe and which chemical agents are used to optimize the color of the fruit for the European market.

Perhaps you have noticed oranges or other citrus fruits with partly green peel in the supermarket. The question quickly arises whether unripe oranges are actually sold there. This thought is obvious at first, since unripe fruits are, as expected, green in most cases. But with citrus fruits such as oranges, the color of the peel says nothing about the degree of ripeness of the fruit.

The fruits only get their bright color from the cold

Oranges only thrive with a lot of warmth and sunshine. But it is not the warm climate that gives the fruits their brilliant color. The color of citrus fruits is based on pigments called carotenoids. In order for these dyes to appear, the temperatures have to drop below 13 ° C for a few hours. If the region where the oranges grow doesn't get cold enough, the fruit will stay green. However, they are still ripe and develop their full aroma. But how do producers know when the green oranges are ripe, if not by their bright color?

The ripeness of green oranges is checked before harvest

Since oranges stay green in warm countries, the degree of ripeness of the fruit is determined by their sweetness and acidity. Only when the ratio between sweetness and acidity is 5.5: 1 in the oranges can the harvest begin. In addition, the fruit must have a juice content of at least 30 to 35%. State controls ensure that no unripe fruit ends up on the market. Only when the sweet-acid ratio of the citrus fruits is right are they released for export.

The majority of the oranges come from tropical countries such as Brazil. Around 80% of global demand is met there. Oranges therefore remain green in their countries of origin and are also sold in the markets there. The aroma of the green oranges is said to be even more intense and better than the orange ones. But why do the fruits have to be orange at all if the color does not play a role in ripening? And how do the oranges that are sold in this country get their bright color?

Why oranges need to be orange on our shelves

Green oranges would simply stay on the shelves in Western Europe and North America. Nobody would buy them because they think they are immature. In addition, we don't know orange in any other color than orange. This color is simply expected from a ripe fruit by the consumer. Even the color is usually strongly associated with the citrus fruit. It is therefore often believed that the fruit was named after its color. In truth, however, it is the other way around. The word “orange” comes from the word “naran [g / j] a” and means “fragrance”.

The oranges are de-greened with chemical agents

Some of the citrus fruits are grown in the mild climates of Italy and Spain. The chances are much greater that the fruit will naturally turn orange, but there is no guarantee that this will happen. Therefore, chemical help is given to almost all citrus fruits.

After the harvest, the fruits are placed in a coloring room for two to three days, where they are de-greened at 20 to 24 ° C. The fruits are treated with the ripening gas ethylene. The ripening hormone causes the skin to slowly change from green to orange. In addition to the de-greening, the natural protective layer of the skin is also washed off. As a result of the de-greening process, the fruits age faster and also lose quality and aroma. The oranges are then more susceptible to fungal attack and cold damage, so they can spoil more quickly.

So that the oranges keep longer, the natural protective layer is replaced by an artificial one. A wax mixed with pesticides is often used for this. Remnants of it then stick to the finger when peeling and can get into the body while eating. For preservation, most of the other pesticides against rot and fungicides are used. The bowls are therefore no longer suitable for cooking or consumption. In order to give the peel a beautiful shine, the fruits are coated with beeswax, shellac or other coating agents. This is done not just with oranges, but with all citrus fruits. For the better marketing of the fruits, a loss of quality caused by the de-greening is accepted.

Which oranges are chemical free?

For some oranges or citrus fruits, the label says “untreated” or “suitable for consumption”. Unfortunately, these fruits can also contain pesticide or preservative residues. These citrus fruits were also waxed. And the note “untreated” only means that the oranges were not treated after they were harvested. In the end, only organic oranges are free from pesticides and preservatives. Organic citrus fruits can then be used for cooking or baking without hesitation.