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bitter orange


Synonyms: Seville orange, sour orange, marmalade orange

botanical name: Citrus aurantium



The bitter orange has been known for a long time. It is considered to be the mother of the sweet oranges. It originated in south-eastern China and north-eastern India, where it was cultivated as early as 2500 b.c. In 1000 a.d. the Arabs brought the bitter orange to Europe. It was and still is grown in large amounts above all in Seville, Spain, where it was the first citrus fruit and for a long time the only one.



It is only rarely traded on the fresh market. In January and February fresh bitter oranges are occasionally seen for sale.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Bitter oranges are spherical or slightly flattened at both ends. With their rough, more or less dimpled, orange-to-reddish skin they very much resemble sweet oranges. A peculiarity is the deeply recessed oil glands of the bitter-aromatic skin, which give the orange its name. Beneath the skin is the orange, segmented pulp, which can contain many pits and tastes very sour. The bitter orange is therefore not suited for direct consumption. In the middle of the fruit is a hollow space.



Bitter oranges contain the secondary plant substances neohesperidine and narangin, both flavonoids. It is neohesperidine above all that produces the bitter aroma of the skin.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

As mentioned above, the bitter orange is not suited for eating raw. In contrast, however, it plays a large role in industrial processing. Particularly in Great Britain, bitter-orange marmalade is very popular. The fruit is also used to make liqueurs (Grand Marnier, Cointreau) and soft drinks. Candied orange peel for baking is made from bitter oranges. Oil is extracted from the skin, the blossoms and the shoots and used in the cosmetic and perfume industries.






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