February 24, 2014

Green oranges

Did you know that Taiwanese citrus fruit are green?
Me and my classmates in Taiwan were wondering when we'd find ripened oranges and mandarins in Taiwan.

Green citrus fruits, looking like they are unripe and very sour. The colour of small lime fruit in Europe, or of very early spring leaves
Green citrus fruits, ready to eat. Sweet!
It was in August and all we could find were the green fruits with a few yellow spots, and we all kept wondering when we would find the ones that were ready to eat. All the ones we found looked like bigger versions of limes or green lemons, and we all imagined them to be very sour. That is, until two of us gave up and bought the green ones and, to our surprise, found that they were just as sweet as the ones we would normally find in Europe and North America, but in Europe and North America they would be bright orange.

Because I am curious I bought one extra and kept in my little room, and eventually it started to change colour too, to some type of more yellow, but not orange.


That's when it was going bad. 

Oranges in orange colour, the colour of fire, the way oranges in Europe normally look
Winter oranges in Taiwan
I of course had to investigate further and found, to my surprise, that citrus fruits in Europe turn orange because they come from areas where the days are warm but the nights are a bit colder, and I learnt that the citrus fruits need colder nights to turn orange, hence the citrus in South East Asia, and not the least in Taiwan, where it is hot and humid the biggest part of the year, never turn orange. At least not the ones that ripen in the summer.

During the winter in Taiwan the citrus fruits get the same beautiful orange colour that we in Europe recognise as being the signal that the fruit is nice and sweet and ready to eat – because during the winter in Taiwan, the difference between daytime and night time is big and the nights do get cold, and hence the oranges orange. 

Nature is fascinating.

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