We are all used to enjoying a delicious sweet hand or press orange all year round, but until the 16th century, people in the Netherlands only knew a sour, bitter variant.
That was a different kind, says culinary historian Christianne Muusers from the Coquinaria website, devoted to culinary history. “The bitter orange (Citrus x aurantium) was there first. Incidentally, it was the Arabs who already planted the first citrus trees (lemons, limes, bitter orange) in Sicily and in southern Spain in the 9th and 10th centuries. ”
“We only know that bitter orange from marmalade (which was originally made with quince) and as candied peels. That bitter orange or bitter orange was not yet used in sweet dishes in the 16th century, but in meat, poultry and fish. You did come across lemon in sweet dishes. ”
Sweet from China
The Portuguese got the famous sweet orange (Citrus x sinensis) from China in the 16th century, after which the exotic citrus fruit quickly reached all of Europe. The citrus fruit was given a name based on its origin: China. This is how the names ‘chinaasappel’ and ‘orange’ were born. The rest is history.
Muusers: “In the Netherlands, the frost-sensitive citrus trees were then placed in greenhouses that were originally called orangeries. The orange tree became a symbol of the royal family in the 18th century. It appears that King William of Orange (1772-1843) was already fond of that sweet orange. For example, on Willem I balls, stuffed oranges with orange and almond jelly were served. ”
Jadis Schreuder, writer / owner of the book / culinary site The Lemon Kitchen, likes to cook with citrus fruits. In the first place she uses lemon, but orange is also featured. “I love oranges; a very versatile fruit. ”
“I am especially a fan of the organic lemons and oranges from Sicily. But all the citrus fruits there – including the tangerines and blood oranges – are tasty. They owe that taste to the climate and the volcanic soil on which those trees grow. To indicate how delicious they are: in Sicily they eat that whole orange. They just throw away the seeds, they don’t taste bitter at all. ”
Schreuder: “I often use orange to sweeten sauces, but I add it at the last minute because the taste and aroma of orange evaporate quickly. It is often the combination of that freshly tart lemon and that sweet, soft orange that works so well. ”
Star chef Pascal Jalhay does not shy away from some orange while cooking. “You can do beautiful things with it, you see the use of orange mainly in North African and Arab cuisine. I once had a nice combination of sweetbread and orange on the menu. We also had a pastille of farm fowl with cinnamon and dates with orange compote and then an orange sorbet. ”
You can also use the orange in fresh salads and it often goes well with poultry (duck!), Desserts and pies, but also in cocktails. But which one should you have? Jadis Schreuder swears by organic and fruit from the market. “Not only because it is often tastier and fresher, but also because this often means that the entire chain is treated fairly.”
Speaking of that chain. The orange season actually runs from October to April / May (depending on the variety); the fruit then comes from countries around the Mediterranean. There are also imports from South Africa and South America. But in some countries, such as Brazil, farmers and pickers labor for a starvation wage under dire conditions. Then there is half the world trip that the fruit has to make …
Another reason to choose closer, sustainable and organic. That way, that apple of Orange tastes even better.
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