Sunday, February 22, 2009
I always think of Seville oranges as February gold - a bright reminder of sunnier climes on dark February days. These bitter oranges had their origin in South East Asia and had been brought as far as Arabia by the 5th century and by the end of the 12th century they were being cultivated in the area around Seville in Spain and came to be known as Seville oranges. For 500 hundred years they were the only orange growing in Europe.
The oranges finally prepared and ready to simmer slowly to soften the peel. This makes the kitchen smells wonderful - bitter oranges are much more fragrant than sweet oranges.
Citrus aurantium is the Latin name for the tree that produces bitter oranges and it is not only the fruits that are used. The flowers are the source of the essential oil known as neroli and they are also distilled to give us orange flower water which is used in making cakes and desserts.
The distilled essence of bitter orange is mixed with a blend of cognacs to give us one of my favourite liqueurs - Grand Marnier. It is the secret ingredient of my fresh fruit salads - when they were small my children always used to ask for 'more juice please mummy'!
Some hours after I started we finally have the finished product! Marmalade was allegedly first invented in Dundee in Scotland in the early 1700s by a lady called Janet Keiller - whether this is actually true or not it is a fact that the first marmalade factory was built by the Keiller family in Dundee in 1797.