Tuesday, 26 October 2010

IT'S SPANISH CITRUS SEASON

IT'S SPANISH ORANGE SEASON

Spanish Oranges are coming into season at this time of the year & many UK suppliers will be travelling to Spain to source Oranges for the winter season.


The Spanish Orange season usally runs from October – April. So I thought I’d post some information on this fantasic fruit.

Oranges originated in Southeast Asia. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is the sweet orange & Citrus aurantium, is the bitter orage. The name is thought to have derived from the Sanskrit for the orange tree.

So how did oranges come to Spain?
The sour orange (Citrus aurantium) was most likely being cultivated by the Chinese by 2500 BC, in addition to the Assam area of India and in Myanmar. Oranges were kept as an Oriental treasure for thousands of years; it wasn’t until the Romans brought these fragrant trees to the Italian port of Ostia around the first century AD when their migration gained momentum.
Approximately 800 years later, the Moors, native Muslims of the region, brought oranges with them to the southern Andalusia region of Spain & by the 13th century orange groves covered Spain from Seville to Granada.
So what makes Spanish oranges so special?
Well, Spain’s climate means that in my opinion its oranges are unrivalled for their flavour and colour. Juicy and thirst quenching, with a clean fresh, sweet taste, they also contain beneficial vitamins. One whole peeled contains approximately 85mg of vitamin C. An orange counts as one of the government’s recommended five a day fruit and vegetable portions, and its high pectin content has shown to help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Pectin is a water fibre that's great if you're dieting because it helps to suppress hunger pangs for up to four hours after eating.

Spanish Orange Varieties
Valencia is the most planted orange internationally, rightfully earning its name, “King of Juice Oranges”. Thomas Rivers took the Valencia orange tree from the Azores to Florida in 1870, where it was cultivated as the Brown “orange”. Years later it was renamed Hart’s Tardif, Hart, and Hart Late, quickly became Florida’s premier sweet orange cultivar. Valencia is a late harvesting orange, and recognized by its smooth, thin skin; its pale, seedless flesh; and its sharp, juicy finish.
Navel and Navelina inherited their namesake from the navel protuberance at the end of its round body, containing a tiny embryonic fruit. A seedless orange with a slight pebbly skin, the Navelina is renowned for its sweet and juicy pulp. The skin, equally vibrant in flavor, is often used in marmalade, preserves, and reductions or as a candied peel
Narajana Amarga (Seville Orange) is the landmark sour orange tree that traveled with the conquering Moors to Spain. Planted throughout the Mediterranean, one usually doesn’t eat the Narajana Amara, but instead, takes advantage of its high acidity and bitter qualities in marmalades, essential oils, teas, honeys and marinades. With a radiant golden colour in both its rind and flesh, and its medium size, containing ten large segments packed with seeds, it’s considered an eye-catching orange.
Blood Orange (Naranja Sanguina) is one of my personal favorites. Commonly used for sorbets and desserts, due to their unique blend of orange, raspberry and grape flavors, its name may have derived from its brilliant dark red interior. Its exterior also displays a reddish hue, but more subtle in its presentation. Another more gruesome theory is that its etymology originated in the medieval latticework of thorns enveloping the branches of the blood orange tree – the perfect defense against parched lips. Thought to have come from southern Italy, it is now grown extensively in southern Spain.
Berna is a moderately sweet orange that is commonly used for reductions, or desserts, and is virtually seedless. Although believed to originate in Spain, its popularity has waned over the years in favour of the Valencian orange. Interestingly, it’s identifiable by its rare pear-like aftertaste.
Now for the football fans, the orange was chosen to be the official mascot of the 1982 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Spain. The mascot was called "Naranjito" ("little orange"), and wore the colours of the Spanish football team uniform.
What to look for when buying oranges:

Choose oranges that are firm and feel heavy (weightier oranges are generally juicier). Very large fruit can sometimes be less sweet and concentrated in flavour. Remember skin colour is not indicative of quality - untreated ripe oranges are often pale orange or even greenish but those sold in supermarkets may be treated with ethylene to break down the green chlorophyll.
The vast majority of commercial oranges (Seville’s apart) are usually treated with a wax polish that may have deleterious effects. If using the rind, try to find unwaxed (and ideally organic) oranges.
Some oranges sold can be a little dry, pithy or lacking in flavour. Buy Spanish oranges over those imported from further a field. Navel oranges (identifiable by the belly button-like rudimentary fruit growth at one end) from Spain are consistently of high quality, and are also seedless and easy to peel. Valencia’s, at their best, are perfect for juicing.




Oranges in the shops today may have been picked anything from a few days to a few weeks earlier. Most will keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

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