The Real Reason Some Oranges Are Green

Oranges are a favored fruit in the United States. According to recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes nearly 14 pounds of oranges each year, making it the second most popular fruit we consume, with only apples topping it in 2019. We love this citrus fruit because it is truly sweet perfection wrapped in an orange peel. In fact, beyond its much-touted vitamin C content, oranges are chockfull of fiber and folate, per Healthline, which help with our digestive system and our metabolism. 

Whether you are a fan of oranges in a salad, in a smoothie, marmalade, as a juice to enjoy with breakfast, or to add a little depth to your desserts, this juicy fruit can do just that. In the U.S., the majority of oranges are grown in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona, with California edging out Florida for the spot of top orange grower, according to the Produce Blue Book. But have you ever come across an orange with a peel that is more green than orange? If so, it may have you asking what it means and wondering if it's OK to eat.

Green oranges can be sweeter

According to the FruitGuys, who sought the sage guidance of a California orange grower, green peels are nothing to be overly concerned about. Green peels are actually an indicator of the temperature at which the orange was cultivated. Cold weather helps to produce the vibrant orange color of this fruit that we've all come to know and love, while warmer weather might cause an orange to regreen. The Cali grower goes on to explain the green is not because the orange isn't ripe, but rather, a result of chlorophyll that is naturally made by the orange to guard against excessive sun. Surprisingly, the green peel doesn't harm the orange and may actually make its fruit even sweeter, if that is possible.

Fresh Point suggests that green peels are more likely to occur with Valencia oranges. However, because consumers may be turned off by the green skin, some growers may turn to heat and ethylene to ensure their oranges stay as orange as possible. They go on to say that if you want to be able to tell if an orange is good, you want to look at its firmness, per Today.