Once you realize how abundantly good for you citrus fruits are, you’ll want to get as much vitamin C as you can. You’ll also want make sure that the fruits and juices you take home are good. Here are some quick tips for buying oranges and orange-based products so you can get your daily citrus in without any confusion.
Oranges and other citrus fruit won’t ripen after picking. You can’t rely on colors either when trying to pick the best batch. A bright orange color doesn’t necessarily mean ripe: Oranges are routinely gassed and dyed for cosmetic reasons. On the flipside, don’t worry about splotches of green on an orange; these do not mean the fruit is bad.
The heavier and smaller the fruit (and, usually, the thinner the skin), the more juice it contains. You’ll also get more juice out of a lemon or orange if you let it get to room temperature and roll it on the counter before juicing it.
Whole oranges can be stored either in the fridge or at room temperature. They’ll last about two weeks. Don’t store them in plastic bags as they can develop mold.
The amount of vitamin C in 8 ounces of orange juice can vary from about 80 to about 140 milligrams depending on the oranges and their ripeness, and on how they were processed and shipped. Heat, including pasteurization, reduces the nutrient content of juice.
Check the date stamped on the carton of juice before you buy: It will stay fresh for two to four weeks once opened. Orange juice begins to lose vitamin C (and other nutrients) from the moment it’s squeezed, but because the C is so abundant, as long as the juice tastes fresh, it’s probably providing you with adequate amounts.
One trick for revitalizing the C content of orange juice is to squeeze a lemon into the carton.
Be sure to read the labels on juices before buying: Many contain more sugar or corn syrup than juice. Only buy 100 percent fruit juice.
While whole fruits are the best choice, there are times when you’re shopping for another form of citrus—something to spread on your toast. Citrus marmalade can be good for you: The flavonoids found in citrus fruit, which help strengthen capillaries and enhance the effects of vitamin C, survive the manufacturing process when being made into marmalade, as do many of the antioxidants and liminoids. The pectin, the soluble fiber in citrus fruit that sets marmalade, has cholesterol-lowering abilities. This is definitely a better choice than butter on your muffin or toast!