These are very juicy and sweet oranges that grow about 3 to 4 inches wide (7.5 to 10 cm.) Despite having thick skin, they are very easy to peel. The sections inside separate easily. The oranges have very few seeds.
Though good for making juice from, they are usually eaten out of hand. Though the juice is very good, what has prevented it from being used as an orange for commercial orange juice is that the juice quickly becomes bitter.
The predominant strain is the Washington Navel. There are, however, many other cultivars besides this, all of which conveniently ripen all throughout the year at different times, which means the market can be supplied with fresh Navel Oranges at any time.
Fine for making juice from at home, provided the juice is served and drunk right away; Otherwise, the juice will become bitter.
Navel Oranges originated in Bahia, Brazil as a mutation, probably of an orange called “Selectra”. It was noted in 1869/70 by an American missionary named Reverend Schneider, who sent 12 trees to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington in 1870. The USDA offered budwood to anyone who wanted it. A Mrs Luther Tibbits in Riverside, California accepted the offer, and was sent in 1873 either 3 branches or 2 trees (accounts vary). By 1878, her trees were bearing fruit. She called them Washington Navels, as the trees had come to her from Washington.
Mrs Tibbits thus started the entire orange industry in California.