22 Jun2005

Superb Sagada Oranges

by Marketman

The thrill of the “hunt” is often enough to get me up at an sag1ungodly hour to trek to a market and poke around. Occasionally, the hunt yields a brilliant find… in this case, superb Sagada grown oranges. I always knew that the North was producing more and more oranges of various varieties and quality levels. A big article in one of the local papers just last year chronicled the travails of growers who were finding it difficult to match the price of cheap imports, etc. So I was not surprised to find several vendors in the Baguio market offering “Sagada Oranges.” But one vendor in the center of the market had a box filled with enormous and unblemished oranges, claiming they were not only from Sagada but sweet and seedless to boot. They were some of the best looking oranges I have seen in the local markets so I started to bargain. At a starting price of P160 a kilo, this was nosebleed material. I haggled it down to P120 a kilo and bought just over one kilo with the intention of tasting them back at the hotel and returning if I needed to buy more.

Later that day, I peeled an orange with great ease sag2(the skin readily separated from the orange sections inside), popped one section into my mouth and literally moaned. The juice was sweet and flavorful, there was not too much pulp and there were almost no seeds at all. A definite hit! Delicious! I believe these are Valencia oranges (as opposed to Navel) that have apparently taken to the Sagada hillsides and thrive, bearing wonderful fruit. The oranges looked like they were freshly picked and I was guessing had far less insecticide sprayed onto their skins and/or wax to ensure that they kept for months in cold storage… so the skins looked brilliant and I was thinking ahead to candied orange peel…

The next day I returned to the market, got to the same orange vendor sag3and bargained like crazy until she agreed to P110 a kilo and I bought nearly every orange in her box. Using a standard juicer, we squeezed 2-3 oranges to make the finest fresh orange juice I have had in years. The flavor was clean, the juice nearly pulp free and “smooth”. If I had a bottle of dry champagne they would have made spectacular mimosas (orange juice and champagne drink usually served at brunch)! At close to P80 a glass this was a luxury but well worth it. I tried to justify my extravagance by saving the orange peel and throwing them into a ziplock bag and into the fridge for later use. If you get a chance to taste these Sagada oranges, please do so. Perhaps not all of them are as good as the ones I got but how nice that we grow these in our own back mountains as it were… Now why don’t chi-chi restaurants in Manila start using some of this great locally grown produce in their dishes???



  1. Ivan M. says:

    Sagada oranges, Nueva Vizacaya oranges, wonder whats the difference?

    Jun 22, 2005 | 8:04 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    I am taking a guess and saying the conditions such as elevation, water, sunlight, quality of soil may result in subtle differences in quality. Some of the Vizcaya oranges I have tried were not so good but I haven’t tried enough to say that with a lot of confidence… I was just thrilled to find the Sagada ones that were so good!

    Jun 22, 2005 | 8:15 pm

  4. anna says:

    Looks like navels to me. Valencias are not easy to peel and have very thin green to yellow-orange skins. Did they have “baby oranges” on the opposite side from the stem end? That would also make them navels. Glad you think have some good local oranges but these look very suspicious. Check out an article by Adam Karp about oranges, I think it appeared in the NYTimes a year or so ago.

    Jun 22, 2005 | 11:14 pm

  5. Marketman says:

    Nope, no “navels” on the opposite end of the stem. Could be something else from Valencias but definitely not navels. The consistency of their juice put them in a distinct category from all the Chinese oranges flooding the market. Of course, there is always the slight possibility they were jiving me…

    Jun 23, 2005 | 6:11 am

  6. Maricel says:

    I have tried those Sagada oranges and Marketman is right, they were sweet and flavorful. I got mine from that corner fruit store right smack in the middle of the vegetable alley at the Baguio Market. I also save orange rinds and throw in some when I make hot chocolate for the kids.

    Jun 23, 2005 | 10:40 am

  7. lee says:

    I have seen on tv a feature on produce sellers in Manila washing their calamansi and tomatoes with a mixture of kerosene and shampoo. This was quite a shock to me that i have become wary of produce which looks way too shiny. I hope that you will find this issue of interest knowing that you have the guts to expose the bad side of markets.
    On the other hand, i’m really enjoying your other posts, even if they are about high end food stuff I can only dream about. Keep on blogging. This site has become a daily habit for me.

    Jun 23, 2005 | 11:02 am

  8. Marketman says:

    Omigod, how horrific. Yikes. I will smell my calamansi and dalandan more closely the next time I purchase it. How outrageous in fact. Actually, if you read my dalandan entry, I do religously wash any citrus or fruit that I juice precisely out of fear of where the skins have been lately, but I was more worried about mud or fecal matter caked onto the skins, not kerosene… Glad you enjoy the site and thanks for visiting so often!

    Jun 23, 2005 | 11:22 am

  9. Michael says:

    Good to know orange trees can be sourced in the Philippines. I was planning on bringing home some Valencia orange saplings and have been trying to devise some plan to slip it through customs. I’ve seen them growing and bearing fruits in huge pots in mediterranean patios. I read somewhere that Tanauan in Batangas used to be orange country before the orchards got wiped out by a disease sometime in the 19th century.

    Aug 28, 2005 | 6:51 pm

  10. Ali says:

    I just returned home from Baguio, where I got several kilos of phenomenal Sagada oranges from a lady in the center of the market. The cardboard sign said “Sweet seedless Sagada navel oranges,” and some of them had a small ‘baby orange’ at one end.

    The vendor let me taste a small wedge. It was very good, but I balked at the price (P100 after much haggling). I have to admit that I was also a bit skeptical, assuming that the orange she cut open for sampling was the best of the bunch.

    But so far, the oranges have far exceeded my expectations. If I had known they would be this good, I would have bought more. Too bad Baguio and Sagada are so far away.

    Does anybody know where these oranges are available in Manila, and for how much? Are they available in the Salcedo Market on Saturdays?

    Feb 19, 2007 | 12:46 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Ali, they do occasionally carry them at the Salcedo market. At least the last four weeks, the large produce stll of Joey Malana has had them. However, I purchased the ones in the photo here from the Baguio market from the same lady you did, probably, and I have to say they were truly superb. Other markets in Manila, sometimes carry oranges from Nueva vizcaya and they can be good as well…but the Sagada ones…memorable.

    Feb 19, 2007 | 6:07 am

  12. goodtimer says:

    Hi MM. Those Sagada oranges are really wonderful, and they get better each year! I was continually buying them kilo by kilo, when last December while touring a balikbayan friend, we chanced upon a vendor selling them outside the Mansion House in Baguio. They were very succulent and sweet! My friend was raving how they were so much better than their California navels. Best thing was we were able to haggle them at only P70/kilo! I kept sending our driver to the spot almost every week when my husband would go up to Baguio for work after the oranges made the rounds of relatives and all of them were asking for more. I would love to see these Sagada citrus farms. I’m imagining rows and rows of orange trees heavy with fruit on mountains. I bet the sight would be exhilirating.

    Feb 27, 2007 | 9:32 pm

  13. cris says:

    I’ve been to Baguio twice and everytime I go there, I hunt for the Sagada oranges. I bought 2 kilos from a vendor in front of the Mansion House too- haggled for 60php/kilo since she was also from my province. And the lady said they were freshly picked. They were very good and quite cold.

    Last year I hunted at the market and bought 6 kg. I think I finished a kilo or two on the trip home to Manila.

    I would like to see the oranges on top of the mountains, the 6 hour drive will probably be worth it after drinking a glass or two of some freshly squeezed orange.

    They sell Sagada oranges in Farmer’s Market. I was lucky enough to be able to buy one time.

    Aug 5, 2009 | 11:33 pm


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