The trees thrive in Andalucia. In the capital Seville, where the trees perfume the streets, an innovative scheme has been launched to transform waste fruit into green energy.
A newspaper article states that 1,000kg of the fruit can produce 50kWh of electricity - enough to power five homes for one day.
- The botanical name for Seville oranges is Citrus × aurantium. It's exact origins are uncertain, but it is said to be a cross between the pomelo and mandarin orange.
- The season is short - typically January each year.
- The fruit originates in Asia and was cultivated by the Romans. When the Muslims ruled the Iberian peninsula, the fruit was recommended for its medicinal properties and the essential oils, which were used for perfume.
- The fruit has a bumpy skin, thick pith and sour juice. Traditionally, the skin of the fruit is used for marmalade due to its aromatic essential oils and high pectin content.
- The oranges contain an organic compound called neohesperidin, which contributes to the bitter flavour.
Growing and harvesting
The soil in Andalucia tends to be rich in phosphorous and iron, which is ideal for citrus fruit. In the orchards, the trees blossom in spring and then the fruit develops green at first, then ripening to orange. Summers are hot and trees are typically irrigated. Cold nights help to colour the fruit.
In the Market
Seville oranges are available from many traders here at New Covent Garden Market, typically in 13 / 15 kilo boxes.
- Jazz up your marmalades by incorporating other citrus such as bergamot and cedro. You can find out more about these fruits in our Chef's Guide to Rare Citrus.
- Use the juice when making ceviche, the South American dish of raw seafood ‘cooked’ in citrus juice.
- Try the juice in a simple dressing for white fish and vegetables. Prepare in the same way as a vinaigrette, omitting the mustard and replacing the vinegar with the Seville orange juice.
- Prepare a classic ‘Duck à l’orange’ with the fruit - the complex flavours of Seville oranges are absolutely ideal for this dish.
- Candy the rind, using any leftover sugar syrup as a drench for sponge cakes.
- Use the juice and zest in a Spanish fish soup called ‘Caldillo de Perro’. You’ll find the full recipe if you do a quick search online.
- Don’t forget that any surplus fruit can also be frozen - so you can stretch their short season.
- In this dish below, Seville orange is paired with Cumbrian mutton and sweet carrot. Credit to Northcote Hotel and Allen Markey.
- This is a gorgeous Seville orange soufflé from pastry chef Katrice King:
A-Z of Chef's Guides