Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hale Groves Red Navel Orange (Hand-Squeezed Juice)

Grower: Hale Groves
Variety: Western Red Navel ("Ravel")
Grower website

So this one definitely falls under the "anything else interesting" category. My inlaws sent us a nice selection of oranges for Christmas. While I'm not a big fan of eating oranges out-of-hand, I could drink OJ all day long. I decided to hand-squeeze some juice from a few of the varieties to give them a taste. I figured I'd give them the old Critical Tastings treatment here. I tried to Google "how to taste orange juice" and "orange juice tasting" to see if there was any expert advice available on juice tastings, but I didn't find much useful info. Maybe we can start our own trend here...

Prior to juicing, I grated off the zest with a microplane. I figured I'd try to get as much as I could from these oranges, so I saved the zest in the freezer for later use. I then gave the uncut oranges a few hard squeezes on the counter to get the juices flowing. Since I don't like pulpy juice, I squeezed the oranges cut-side up over my second hand to catch as much of the seeds/pulp as I can. Squeezing them cut-side down (after removing the seeds) will net you more juice as well as more pulp. FYI - be prepared for your kitchen to smell awesome if you try this yourself. I then put my fresh-squeezed juice in the fridge to chill. (Tip: room-temperature oranges will give you more juice than chilled ones.)

These Red Navels look just like a navel orange in their outward appearance, but when you cut into them the flesh is a pinkish-red, like cutting into a red grapefruit. Interestingly, the juice itself is golden orange, much like any store-bought OJ. There is only the faintest hint of pink. The aroma of the juice is just like a fresh-cut orange (no surprises here). The juice is quite sweet, with fairly light acidity. I do detect a hint of bitterness, but I suspect this is from the oils in the skin that I released by zesting the oranges prior to juicing. It's not too distracting, but I think I'll wait to grate off the zest until after I juice the next batch. All in all, this is a nice sweet juice with a natural low acidity. It may be a bit of work, but it rivals any premium store-bought juice in flavor.

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