Orange tree (Citrus aurantium) laden with fruit, outside the Iglesia de San Martin de Tolus, Plaza de San Martín, Sevilla, Andalucia, Spain
Food - Drink
The Unique Type Of Orange Used For British Marmalades
Seville Oranges
Seville oranges, or “bitter oranges,” aren't like regular oranges because while their rind, juice, and zest are usable, their flesh cannot be eaten. The oranges are a cross between an orange and a pomelo, resulting in a smaller, bitter orange, and although they aren’t eaten raw, the fruits are used to make British marmalade.
Seville oranges aren’t native to the region, and the oranges were first grown in Asia before they were introduced into Spain by the Moors over a thousand years ago. Because of the way its fruits tasted, the trees were cultivated as decorative plants, and today, Seville has more than 40,000 orange trees.
Bitter vs. Sweet
Although Seville oranges are called “bitter oranges,” they’re not the only citrus that fits this flavor profile. These types of oranges are cultivated for their peel, which is thicker and more fragrant than their sweet counterparts and contains more essential oils as well as pectin, making them best for preserves.
With sour, bitter flesh, Seville oranges aren't known as "bitter oranges" for nothing. Yet, in spite of their flavor, they are sought after in Britain, where their intense orange flavor is the foundation for classic British marmalade, and in fact, Seville oranges are the reason Cointreau and Grand Marnier came to be.
In the Kitchen
British marmalade makers prize Seville oranges not just because of their strong flavor, but also because the fruit is rich in pectin which is needed to make marmalade. Aside from marmalade, Seville orange juice can be used in place of lemon juice to dress up savory dishes like sauces for pork, duck, and rich meats.