Are Oranges Actually Orange?

This article will answer the question,” Are Oranges Actually Orange?” and will discuss how they got the orange color.

Are Oranges Actually Orange?

No, oranges are not orange in their color.

When I was visiting with a fellow gardener the other day, he stated how startled he was to discover that he had eaten a green orange from one of his orange trees and that it was wonderful and sweet. Why wasn’t it orange, though? Isn’t it true that ripe oranges are orange?

Ripe oranges are green, not orange, in most warmer regions of the world, especially around the equator. The chlorophyll content of an orange increases as it grows. Chlorophyll dies off and the orange hue emerges when exposed to cold temperatures throughout the maturation phase.

People who live in southern nations, particularly those near the equator, are unlikely to have seen an orange with an orange rind. Because of their warm temperatures, all of their oranges will have green rinds.

Oranges are cultivated in warmer areas in various parts of the United States and Europe, plucked when green, and exported to cooler climates where citrus isn’t grown.

Many green oranges are artificially colored oranges because oranges do not continue to mature after they are picked. Green oranges are regarded to be unripe and not sellable to the general public in the United States and many areas of Europe.

Exposing green fruits to ethylene gas, which breaks down the chlorophyll, or exposing the fruits to low temperatures are the two most popular methods for coloring oranges. Another popular method for coloring green oranges is to dye them. After the coloring process, oranges are frequently dipped in wax to keep moisture in the fruit and increase its shelf life. Simply remember that orange does not have to be orange in hue to be considered a real orange.

Why is orange an Orange?

Consider how different the world would be if there were no colors. Everything would be in black-and-white, light-and-dark contrasts. Life would be duller, nature would be less attractive, and oranges would no longer be orange!

Orange is only one of the many colors that may be found in fruits and vegetables. Apart from oranges, bright colors may be seen in pumpkins, papaya, carrots, bell peppers, and peaches, which allow chemistry within them.

Physics behind the Orange Color

Before we get into food colors, let’s go over some physics fundamentals so we can grasp what light and color are. Electromagnetic radiation, sometimes known as visible light, is a kind of wave. This radiation is classified as part of the ‘visible light spectrum’ when its wavelength is between 390 and 700 nm. Many light sources do not emit a single wavelength of light, but rather a mixture of wavelengths, resulting in light that is white or yellowish.

However, each wavelength of light is associated with a distinct color. A laser, for example, emits only one wavelength and hence has a single color.

When light strikes an item, such as orange, some of it is reflected, some are absorbed, and some are perhaps transferred. Which is determined by the entering light’s wavelengths as well as the material’s composition.

If a wavelength of light is absorbed, it will not reach our eyes. When a certain wavelength is reflected, however, it can reach our eyes and be seen.

Chemistry Behind the Orange Color

The connection between color chemistry and physics (wavelengths, reflection, etc.) is next. A product’s chemistry has an impact on whether wavelengths are absorbed, reflected, or transmitted. Certain big complex chemical structures are very effective in absorbing specific wavelengths of light.

Foods can be colored by a variety of distinct groupings of chemicals. Chlorophyll, a collection of chemicals that gives plants their green color, is perhaps one of the most well-known. They absorb the right wavelengths of light to employ in the photosynthesis process. They reflect the light they don’t need, which is green.

Carotenoids color oranges

Carotenoids are a category of chemicals that give oranges their color. Carotenoids are a vast category of molecules, with hundreds of different types having been discovered.

I couldn’t locate a chemical description for carotenoids; however, it appears that they have a few distinguishing properties. Almost all of them have 40 carbon (C) atoms. These carbon atoms create a lengthy chain with some double bonds and short side chains in between (often only 1 carbon atom long). The chain’s endpoints might be either straight or have a ring of carbon atoms at the end.

Long carbon chains with few oxygen molecules make up carotenoids. This makes them hydrophobic, which means they prefer to sit in fat rather than water. They are fat-soluble to a large extent. This also makes them quite stable while cooking or heating things; they won’t easily seep out in the cooking water.


This article answered the question,” Are Oranges Actually Orange?” and discussed how they got the orange color.


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