Oranges aren’t orange. Well, okay, some are, but not all. In fact, oranges start out growing green and sometimes stay that way. Yup. Oranges are green.
Why are oranges green? Oranges are green because their skin naturally contains chlorophyll while they are on the tree. Once the chlorophyll dies the orange turns, well, orange. In places that get cold sometimes – like Florida or parts of Europe – the cold will cause the chlorophyll to die. Thus, the oranges turn yellow.
However, in other parts of the world like Honduras, it doesn’t usually get cold enough to cause the oranges to turn orange on the tree. They stay green. Even when oranges are ripe they can be green. It’s a complete myth that green oranges are not ripe.
In fact, most oranges from the equatorial region only turn orange when shipped. Even then it’s not guaranteed that an orange will turn orange. Since most people think only orange colored oranges are ripe most orange sellers will ensure they appear orange.
Oranges are sometimes exposed to ethylene – a chemical that causes chlorophyll to break down – in order to turn them orange. This process is called degreening. Sometimes they’re even dyed to look orange. Interestingly, oranges cannot ripen in response to exposure to ethylene (a characteristic called non-climacteric).
If you ever eat a ripe orange that’s green it will taste the exact same as a ripe orange orange. Try to find a green orange and tell us how it tastes!
[Photo Credit] Magnus Bråth