Here in Sevilla white orange blossoms appear in winter and infuse the city with an intoxicating aroma through the spring. Likely this orange was cultivated not only for its pungent fragrance, but also because it stays green year round, providing shade in summer and thick swashes of lush green to line the streets all winter.
Aside from bitter orange, many citrus trees are grown successfully here. Orange, lemon, mandarine, satsuma, clementine, grapefruit, lime, kumquats and limequats are all cultivated here and have culinary as well as medicinal uses.
It’s Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Sevilla’s Bitter Orange is by far the most iconic of all citrus fruits in the region.
The Botanical Name of Bitter Orange is Citrus aurantium. Other Common Names include: Kuang chu, naranja agria, neroli, amara, hua chu hung, citrus bergamia, citrus bigaradia, citrus vulgaris, Seville orange, zhi shi, petit grain, chongcao, bigarade orange, sour orange.
This tree belongs to the Rutaceae Family. It is a flowering evergreen which bears fruit and is native to tropical Asia, today it is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean region.
The dried outer peel of the fruit, with the white pulp removed is used medicinally. The leaves and flowers are also commonly used in many medicinal folk traditions. The small, unripened fruits are a traditional flavoring in the liquor Curacao, and the fresh outer peel including the pulp is used for making sweets and marmalade.
Bitter Orange in your Medicine Cabinet
The plant has a complex chemical makeup, and the oil that is extracted from the peel is particularly potent. This oil has an orange color and a strong flavor and aroma that is used to remedy for a variety of health problems.
The oil contains flavones, the alkaloids synephrine, octopamine, and N-methyltyramine and carotenoids which are useful for the treatment of headaches, indigestion, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and high blood pressure.
The flower is also used for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, nervousness and insomnia, gout and sore throat, even as a treatment for obesity. In Chinese medicine, the flower of the bitter orange is also used to ease chest and stomach pain. Homeopathic practitioners use both the peel and the flowers to treat these conditions, while the leaves of the plant can be prepared as a tonic and used as a laxative, a sedative for insomnia, and to calm anxiety.
For a more complete listing of benefits when using this citrus medicinally, check out ayushology.com
Bitter Orange in your Kitchen Cabinet
It's easy to understand why, historically, Bitter Oranges became associated with opulence, wealth, and culinary delights. They appear in the middle of winter, when all is cold and grey, offering visual warmth and a plethora of culinary possibilities. Recipes for puddings, sauces and preserves made with Sevilla oranges go back centuries, but it was a happy accident of inclement weather that marmalade was born.
A ship carrying a cargo of Seville oranges was forced to shelter from a storm in the harbor at Dundee. A local grocer named James Keiller, bought up the fruit before it went bad, and his wife Janet, turned them into marmalade. You will find here our favorite marmalade recipe, and for more ideas on how to cool with this amazing citrus, check out KITCHN’s recommendations
Also be sure to check out our friend Clare’s blog post on the subject on the Meeting Point Post
Here is a printable image of the recipe to share. We hope you will give it a try!
Sevilla Orange Marmalade
1 kg Seville oranges
1 large lemon
2 kg sugar
You need a large pot for boiling, 30cm/ 30cm square of gauze or muslin and 6 or 7 340 ml jars
Cut the oranges in half, and remove the visible pits. Squeeze the oranges and then put the juice into your pot. Cut the orange halves into quarters, and scrape out the pulp and membrane (set aside) then cut the peel into uniform shreds. Put the peel into the pot along with the juice. Gather the pulp and membrane together in the gauze and tie with string. Add 2.25 litres of water to the pan and the gauze pouch. Cover the pan with a lid or plastic wrap and leave in a cool place overnight.
The next day, bring everything to a simmer over medium heat, then simmer on low until the pieces of orange are really soft – they should squash easily between two fingers. This should take about an hour and a half. Once the peel is soft, remove the gauze pouch, pressing it gently against the side of the pan first to extract as much juice as possible. Put the pouch into a bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and add the sugar. Once the pouch is coolish, squeeze the last of the pectin rich juice from it into the pan.
Preheat the oven to 140° celcius, and place 6 - 7 very clean jars on a baking tray inside to sterilize for 20 minutes.
Keep stirring the pan to help dissolve the sugar. This will take about 15 mins. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the marmalade to a rolling boil and boil for 20 – 25 minutes, until it has reached the setting point. To test for the setting point, place a blob of marmalade on a cold saucer. Put the saucer in the freezer for a minute and then drag your finger through the blob. The marmalade is ready when the blob wrinkles and remains pretty much split in two and doesn’t run back into a whole.
Preheat the oven to 140° celcius, and place 6 - 7 very clean jars on a baking tray inside to sterilize for 20 minutes. Keep stirring the pan to help dissolve the sugar. This will take about 15 mins. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the marmalade to a rolling boil and boil for 20 – 25 minutes, until it has reached the setting point. When the marmalade is ready, take the pan from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, transfer the marmalade into the warm jars. Seal the jars immediately and leave them to cool. Keep the jars in a cool dry place. They do not need refrigeration for up to a year, or if they are opened.