When you look at different citrus fruits, most of them have clear differences that make them easily identifiable.
A lemon doesn’t really look like a lime and neither of those really look like an orange, right? But what about when you add in a grapefruit to this little lineup?
The orange and the grapefruit really look quite a bit alike when you take a look at their specific details.
It can be easy to mistake one for the other, particularly when you look at the outside that still has the peel on. Of course, when you open them up, there are far more differences to take note of.
What is the difference between oranges and grapefruits? While their appearances are similar in some ways, oranges have flesh that is far more orange than grapefruits, which tend to be pinkish-red. Also, grapefruits are a bit more bitter than oranges, which tend to be sweeter depending on the variety.
In this guide, we will walk you through a complete comparison and review of oranges and grapefruits. We will talk about what makes these similar citrus fruits so different in comparison and let you know all of the things that set them apart.
We will cover taste, size, how they are used, and even a little bit of nutritional detail as well.
Keep reading to learn the difference between oranges and grapefruits!
Oranges Vs Grapefruits – A Complete Guide
When it comes to orange and grapefruits, they are similar but actually very different.
They have different sizing, different coloring, and vastly different flavoring as well. The outsides can easily be confused at times but when you peel away that outer orange layer, you have fruits that are almost nothing alike.
We’re going to start by talking about first one fruit and then another as we go through this guide. We will discuss oranges and all of their details and then go do the same for grapefruits.
After we’ve covered them both in detail, we will come back and give you a quick summary as well!
Let’s start with the orange. It’s a basic orange sphere on the outside surface. Beneath that peel on the outside, you find a juicy fruit that is a light orange in color.
Oranges are considered to be a citrus fruit and they fall into the Rutaceae family of citrus.
Did you know that the orange is actually a hybrid fruit? The mandarin and the pomelo were bred together to create what we know to be the orange. With that in mind, oranges have still been around for a very, very long time.
When you look at an orange, you see a round fruit that is coated in an orange-colored peel. This peel pulls away from the fruit inside.
There are a lot of different types of oranges out there to choose from. Some of them have seeds while others do not.
The orange fruit inside of that peel is also a light orange in color, with white stringy coating around it.
Most people do not eat the rind, although it is edible to some extent. The rind can also be used for potpourri, cooking, or other uses as well.
It’s soft and yet just slightly firm at the same time. If you squeeze it, you can elicit orange juice from the fruit.
Some people like to eat their oranges in wedges or they like to peel each little orange slice apart. The beauty of it is that it is totally up to you!
You can find oranges year-round, although the seasons for them do depend on the variety of oranges being harvested. Blood oranges, navel oranges, and Valencia oranges are all harvested in different seasons really.
When you bite into an orange, it has a very distinct flavor. The flavor is just slightly sweet while also being slightly tart at the same time.
The flavor is very light and refreshing and it’s a juicy fruit so you easily might end up with juices running down your chin when you take a bite of an orange.
That sweet and tart combination have almost a slight floral note to them but nothing that is going to make it bitter or be dominant in the flavor.
Oranges are refreshing in flavor while being sweet and juicy at the same time. It’s the perfect combination of all of these details that really make them so great.
When you combine those characteristics with the floral aroma and slight flavor, you just can’t beat these unique creations.
One of the other main differences between an orange and grapefruit is the size. While they can be similar in size, oranges are noticeably smaller than grapefruits most of the time.
It is possible to get a large orange that is close to a grapefruit-size but as a rule of thumb, grapefruits are larger.
To put it in perspective, oranges average about 8 centimeters in diameter. Across the board, they range from 5-12 centimeters in diameter but they typically fall right in the middle at about 8.
This is about 3 inches in diameter. As far as weight, most oranges weigh in around 3-5 ounces as well.
They are small but the different types of oranges can be different sizes. In the United States, the majority of oranges that we see are navel oranges but we could see hundreds of different types out there if we get to searching.
For comparison purposes, let’s take just a quick look at the nutritional details of an orange as opposed to a grapefruit.
Both are considered to be healthy options. Oranges are naturally higher in sugars, calories, and carbohydrates but not disturbingly so. They also contain amino acids.
The glycemic index is probably the biggest nutritional difference as oranges have a much higher glycemic index than grapefruits.
Oranges also tend to be slightly more alkaline in nature. However, in comparison to grapefruits, oranges have a significantly lower fat content than grapefruits do. They also have more vitamins in them.
Oranges are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and multiple B Vitamins. Oranges also contain high levels of calcium, potassium, and iron.
Now that we’ve learned all about the orange, let’s look at some of these same details for the grapefruit. You already may see some major differences standing out between the two if you are at all familiar with either fruit here.
When we look at a grapefruit, we see a similar orange exterior to the orange. It has that orange coloring and the peel comes off in much the same way. Again, you can enjoy a grapefruit in wedges or peel it off and eat them slice by slice.
When you pull back the peel, you instantly should see a difference when compared to an orange.
Where your orange was light orange in color, the grapefruit is more of a red or pink color. It’s a deeper color. You might hear of the ruby red grapefruit. This is an indication of the color of the fruit underneath the peel.
You still have that outside orange peel and you still have the white stringy casings around the juicy fruit itself.
But the fruit will be red in color rather than orange in color. Textures and overall looks will be very similar but that color is going to stand out.
If you bite into those red pieces expecting an orange flavor, you will probably be disappointed!
That being said, some grapefruit has a pink color instead of the darker red color. However, it’s still definitely more pink or red than orange in comparison.
Grapefruits generally come from Texas or Florida within the United States. You will find them year-round but their prime harvesting time is mostly from about November through June.
We mentioned that oranges were a hybrid fruit. Grapefruits are also hybrid. They are bred from pomelos and sweet oranges.
When you compare oranges to grapefruits, the appearance is a major factor but the taste is also significantly different.
Grapefruits do not taste the same as oranges at all. While they are still juicy and citrusy, there is a substantial differentiation in the overall taste.
Just like with oranges, the fruit is soft and maybe slightly stringy. It can be just a tad firm on the outside but the fruit center is soft, slightly squishy, and very juicy.
Now, here is where your difference begins in taste. Grapefruits have a reputation for being slightly bitter and almost sour.
They do have a touch of sweetness to them to help round out the flavors but the distinct flavor you are going to notice is the bitter and sour combination.
That being said, they don’t taste bad. The juicy nature paired with the slight hint of semi-sweetness really brings the entire flavor together for a bold taste that almost cannot be compared to anything else in the citrus world.
Not everyone likes grapefruit and a lot of people also say that grapefruit is really more of an acquired taste.
We think this is because most people expect it to be sweet but are met with that hint of sour and bitter flavor instead. Maybe having clear expectations of the flavor will make a difference there.
Another good way to describe the flavor of a grapefruit is tangy and tart. This actually probably sounds more appealing than sour or bitter.
Of course just how acidic or tart the grapefruit is might also depend on the type of grapefruit you try. Ruby Red grapefruits are some of the sweetest options out there, which is perhaps why they are one of the most popular choices.
The size is another differentiating factor between the orange and the grapefruit. Grapefruits are known to be larger than oranges and sometimes quite a bit larger.
Where an average orange is right around 3 inches in diameter, your average grapefruit is more like 4-6 inches in diameter.
Some of them even get larger than that but this gives you an average expectation. Small grapefruits are really close in size to large oranges if you take note of the diameter range.
Remember that an orange can range from 5-12 centimeters. A grapefruit can range similarly from 10-15 centimeters so there is a bit of crossover on size there. However, on average, the grapefruit is noticeably larger.
When you think about the weight of a grapefruit, it can easily weigh 2-3 times more than an orange. A grapefruit weighs an average of about 8 ounces, as opposed to the common 3-5 ounces of your everyday orange.
Obviously, the size can vary but these numbers give you a good idea of the average to expect.
Grapefruits are lower in natural sugars as well as carbohydrates when compared to an orange. They do have a higher fat content though than an orange.
Grapefruits are often recommended as a healthy fruit for weight loss diets but it depends on your eating style and goals so keep that in mind.
As far as the glycemic index, grapefruits do have a lower index than oranges, this can sometimes be up to half of what an orange is.
Grapefruits are a really great source of Vitamin A. They also contain several B vitamins and high levels of Vitamin C as well.
Grapefruits are known for being rich in phosphorous. They have some iron and calcium but not as much as oranges. They also have magnesium and zinc in them.
We’ve dug into the details of the grapefruit vs. orange and found that they are somewhat similar in ways but a lot different in other ways.
When you put the two against each other, the outsides are very consistent. You won’t notice a ton of difference as both fruits are coated in a peel that is an orange color.
However, grapefruits typically are significantly larger than oranges in size. A grapefruit can weigh up to 3 times more in ounces than an orange and will usually be 1-2 inches larger in diameter as well.
When you peel an orange and a grapefruit, their differences become quite a bit more noticeable.
Grapefruits tend to have red or pink tones on the fleshy part of the fruit. There are a few varieties of grapefruit that are yellow like a lemon. Then you have the orange, which is always orange on the fleshy part of the fruit.
Those shades of orange can vary but it’s never red or pink like grapefruit.
The tastes are also very different. Oranges are lightly sweet and refreshing with a hint of floral aroma to them. Grapefruits, on the other hand, are tangier and tart, with just a touch of sweetness to keep them from being overly bitter.
When it comes to nutritional details, both fruits have their benefits. Their vitamin and mineral content is pretty similar overall with just a few slight differences.
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