Seedless oranges, and fruit in general, have become the norm in many developed countries due to their convenience but just how much of a difference do seedless fruit make when it comes to their flavor, texture, and other characteristics?
Seedless oranges, why are they different? Seedless oranges (or Navels) are a type of orange that doesn’t produce seeds. They are known to be a convenient option for people who don’t want to deal with seeds. Seedless oranges are almost similar to regular oranges in flavor, but some special varieties of seedless oranges can also be sweeter and more flavorful.
Read below to learn more about seedless oranges, how they are grown, how they differ, and a few things to keep in mind about their characteristics:
All About Seedless Fruit
Seedless fruit are not a new invention. They have been around since antiquity and there are even counts of seedless fruit, mainly grapes, being cultivated and consumed centuries ago.
You might be wondering how our ancestors managed to grow seedless fruit without the help of science. Well, it turns out that seedless fruit are a naturally occurring phenomenon!
Every plant has a means of reproduction. They grow fruits that contain several seeds that can produce more plants of the same family.
However, it turns out that given enough time, the genes of a plant can mutate naturally in a way that renders it seedless.
It is not clear why or how this exactly happens, but scientists believe that the mutation in genes is natural and can occur due to numerous factors related to cultivation practices, soil quality, and ambient conditions.
When this happens, the plant begins to grow fruit that don’t contain seeds.
Apart from natural reasons, seedless fruit can also be a product of human intervention using selective and cross-breeding practices.
For example, an orange plant can be cross-bred with a variety that naturally produces less or no seeds.
By repeating this process multiple times, the gene that is responsible for seed production will eventually disappear from the offspring species.
Farmers can then selectively cross-breed and grow plants that produce seedless fruit.
Interestingly, there is an easy way to reproduce plant species that don’t grow seeds via a technique called “grafting”.
To grow seedless fruit species, farmers cut off a branch from a tree that produces seedless fruit. That branch is then planted and grown – and this process can be repeated an infinite number of times!
Essentially all the plant species cultivated this way will be a clone of the original.
Why do farmers do this? Well, seedless fruits were first seen as a novelty due to their peculiarity, but it didn’t take long for people to realize their utility and convenience – and since they sell better, eventually, seedless fruit started to outnumber seed varieties in supermarkets.
Think about it, would you rather go for an orange full of seeds that you have to tediously remove, or would you prefer a quick and easy variety that you can just peel and eat without wasting time?
Seedless fruit sell better and are convenient – but are they truly better? Or is there a difference between both types?
Seedless Oranges Vs Oranges with Seeds
Let’s explore the differences between both types of fruit:
In the context of flavor, seedless oranges don’t seem to have any discerning differences from their seed-laden counterparts. Both oranges provide more or less the same zesty and sweet flavor that everyone knows and loves.
One can even go so far as to say that the juice from either fruit will be impossible to discern, especially when it’s prepared with added sugar.
However, some people claim that they can feel a difference, especially when they do a side-by-side taste comparison.
The thing is, this type of test is very difficult to conclude because every orange will have a slightly different flavor due to several factors related to how it was grown, the soil condition, harvesting time, and how long the fruit was left to ripen.
To illustrate the difficulty of resolving this problem, we recommend doing a simple test at home. Go to your local supermarket and buy two seed oranges: one from the top and one from the bottom of the pile.
Peel and taste both of them and we can almost guarantee that they will not taste the same.
Sure, they will have the same dominant flavor notes but there will still be a difference in the intensity of the flavor notes.
The same can also be said for seed vs seedless oranges. They might provide the same flavor notes, but it’s almost impossible to get the same flavor.
Sometimes the seed variety will taste better while other times the seedless variety will win!
The only discernible difference will be when the seedless variety is specially grown to be sweeter.
For example, agriculturists can cultivate species of seedless oranges (via natural methods) to have multiple favorable traits like thick skin, a larger size, and a sweeter flavor.
In that case, the seedless variety will taste invariably better than oranges with seeds.
The texture and appearance of these oranges is where you will notice the most difference. Seedless oranges are truly a sight to see! If you have never tried seedless oranges before then you might be taken by surprise by their appearance.
Although seedless oranges have the same color and shape, they tend to have thicker skin. But again, their features will depend on multiple factors.
Seedless oranges will have the same segmented flesh as their seed-laden counterparts and they will feel the same when you bite into them, except for the fact there you won’t notice any seeds.
Some varieties of seedless oranges can also be noticeably juicer, especially if they have been cross-bred.
The uses of seedless and seeded oranges are practically the same. While there is less work involved when working with seedless oranges, there is virtually no other difference in using either type of orange.
The only notable difference might be if the seedless orange is specially cultivated to be sweeter or juicier – then you might find using the seedless variety more beneficial in some cooking scenarios.
Apart from cooking, using seedless oranges is generally very convenient as you can easily peel and eat them right from the hand without worrying about discarding the seeds.
GMO Seedless Oranges
GMO food crops are a topic of debate in the agriculture and consumer world. Although we have been growing modified seedless fruit naturally for many decades, many countries are now also taking the help of science to produce genetically modified oranges.
To be clear, there are two varieties of seedless oranges:
One is produced through natural means where farmers use natural techniques involving cross-breeding and selective breeding to produce high-quality seedless oranges and the other variety is produced by artificial means where scientists use technology to alter the genes of the fruit according to their specifications.
With GMO technology, scientists can hone in on specific genes and cause changes that can produce larger, sweeter, and overall better oranges – but many people believe that this type of “meddling” is unnatural and can also be detrimental to health.
Even though there is no direct evidence that suggests GMO fruits are bad for your health, people still try to avoid them in favor of a more natural seed/seedless orange.
It is also important to note that labeling laws for GMO and Non-GMO products can vary from one country to another.
In most cases, the labeling of non-GMO products has become increasingly common because it adds to the marketing of the product since people tend to trust natural fruit more than artificially altered fruit.
If you are concerned about the type of seedless oranges available at your local superstore then we highly recommend that you ask the store representatives about their labeling, just to be sure.
Seedless oranges (and other fruit) are becoming increasingly common in groceries stores in developed countries. Now that you know the difference between seedless oranges and oranges with seeds, here are some related questions:
Are seedless oranges healthier?
Seed and seedless oranges share a similar nutritional profile. Since the only difference between them is the absence of seeds in one variety, they don’t offer a notable difference in nutrition.
You can try either type of orange to get the same level of vitamin C and other important nutrients.
Do all seedless oranges have thick skin?
Seedless oranges, also called Navels, are a type of orange that naturally has thick skin. Compared to seed oranges, navels are easier to peel because of their skin and can often be peeled by hand.
Do seedless oranges have a longer shelf life?
While the shelf life of seed and seedless oranges is typically the same, some varieties of seedless oranges can be cultivated to be resistant to spoilage by having thicker skin.
This gives seedless oranges a few extra days of shelf life over their seed-laden counterparts – but both types of oranges will require the same best practices when it comes to storage.