Friday, 26 August 2016

New Citrus: Seville Orange & Lemonade.

This week i spent some time up in the tropical, far north of New Zealand. On the way home i drove through the Orange-growing mecca of NZ called Kerikeri. I thought it might be cool to stop in to an interesting nursery called Flying Dragon (named after the trifoliate orange dwarfing root stock). Most Citrus plants in garden centres in NZ will come from this nursery and they have many interesting varieties. They have several large greenhouses housing all their rootstock plants growing on and then subsequent budding of the various varieties onto rootstocks. Unfortunately they weren't keen on photos sorry:(
Anyhoo i picked up a couple of new Citrus friends to come home with me: a Seville Orange and a Lemonade (aka 'New Zealand' Lemonade for non-kiwis)

Seville orange is a widely known, particularly tart orange which is now grown throughout the Mediterranean region. It has a thick, dimpled skin, and is prized for making marmalade, being higher in pectin than the sweet orange, and therefore giving a better set and a higher yield. It is also used in baking, compotes and orange-flavored liqueurs. Once a year, oranges of this variety are collected from trees in Seville, Spain and shipped to Britain to be used in marmalade. However, the fruit is rarely consumed locally in Andalusia.

Although the Seville orange smells like a true orange, it is quite different. Its rough, thick and bumpy deep orange coloured peel clings tightly to its pale orange translucent flesh, making it hard to peel. The fruit is sour, tart, sometimes bitter and laden with seeds. It is medium size, round, with a slightly depressed apex. It has two primary attributes: the peel contains fragrant essential oils and its flesh, when ripe, is extremely juicy. The tree is attractive, large, vigorous, productive and cold tolerant. It has very few or no thorns. The most common usage for the Seville orange is for the production of marmalade where it can use its peel and juice to its advantage; any sour and bitter flavours can be developed and enriched into elements of depth. Other culinary uses can be to use the zest and juice in flavoured syrups, cocktails, vinaigrette or marinades. Pair with fennel, bitter greens, chicories, olives, other citrus, fresh herbs, aged cheeses, seafood, rice, and Spanish spices. Look here for a great recipe for a Seville Orange Curd Tart or here for Seville Orange Marmalade.
As you can see the Blossoms are large, plentiful and come with the most intoxicating Orange Blossom aroma which wafts throughout the garden, an added bonus to the fruit.
The Seville orange, is also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat nausea, indigestion and constipation. The crushed fruit and macerated leaves will lather when mixed with water and is used as a soap substitute in the Pacific Islands. The Seville orange peel, when dried and concentrated, contains a chemical similar to ephedra and has been used in many modern weight-loss products. 

Sour oranges are native to China. Trade routes brought them to Africa and the Mediterranean. This variety was brought directly to Spain by Arab conquerors in the 10th century from northern Africa via Morocco. Cultivation of sour orange varieties led to the Seville orange of Seville, Spain in the 12th Century, where it would accrue its name. The Seville orange was the only orange variety in Europe for the next 500 years. It was also one of the first citrus varieties brought to the New World where it was naturalized in the Caribbean, South, Central and North America. When sweet oranges were introduced to America, sour orange trees would begin to shift their role as edible fruit to rootstock. Cross pollination of the sour and sweet orange trees also proved to create bitter fruits in sweet orange varieties which forced farmers to reduce production of sour orange trees.

A Lemonade is a natural crossbread between an Orange and a Meyer Lemon, first cultivated in the 1980’s in Northland, New Zealand. It grows to about about 2.5-3 metres high. The fruit has the appearance and shape of a lemon though it is easily peeled, and easily segmented. It is unusually sweet and juicy and has a sweet effervescent flavour with a low acid content, tasting of lemonade. It is devoid of bitterness and can easily be eaten as a fresh fruit, or squeezed for drinks. The Lemonade tree often has small thorns and can bear a heavy crop each year. Fruit is ripe when light green in colour and is consumed fresh, juiced, with mixed drinks, or used to make marmalades with other citrus. It is quite popular as a backyard tree throughout NZ & Australia, with a only a few small commercial plantings.

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