Tag Archives: oranges

Seville | Everything you always wanted to know about oranges….

Seville is, as we all know, famous for its orange trees and oranges, but if you’re not a jam-maker, botanist or citrus fruit farmer, it may come as a surprise to learn that this is the season when the oranges are harvested. There are probably lots of other things you don’t know about oranges, but luckily for you we are here to ask all those questions you could never be bothered to ask.

orange harvestoranges being harvested in the centre of Seville

Oranges are grown in lots of places, but where did they come from originally?
Oranges are thought to be native to south-east Asia, probably north-east India, southern China and Vietnam.

How were they introduced to Spain?
Oranges were introduced to the Eastern Roman Empire from India in about the 1st century, and gradually spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. They were brought to Spain by the Moors in the 10th century. It is sometimes said that Hercules, also credited with being one of the founders of Seville, stole the first oranges from the Gardens of the Hesperides, where they were called Golden Apples.

orange blossomfragrant orange blossom (azahar)

Why are they called oranges?
Ultimately, this is a similar question to “why is water wet?” However, the Indian word for orange was “naranyan”, which means “inner fragrance”, and most European languages use similar names, such as Spanish “naranja”. In English, it was originally a norange (no, that’s not a typo).

Sweet oranges are obviously good to eat, but why choose to plant bitter oranges?
Precisely for that reason – people wouldn’t eat them and the trees would remain decorative throughout the season until the fruit were harvested. In fact, decoration and shade were the primary reasons for growing orange trees. In China they were also thought to bring their owners happiness and good fortune, and this tradition may have spread with the trees.

What are they used for?
In the Middle Ages the use of oranges was primarily medicinal. Later they were used for perfumes, wines and flavourings, particularly sweets, and since the 17th century (when sugar from Caribbean plantations became available in large quantities) the majority of bitter oranges have been exported to England to make Seville Orange Marmalade. Also exported was the Spanish word for jam – “mermelada”.

Poires au Chocolat Seville Orange Marmaladephoto: Poires au Chocolate – click here for a great marmalade recipe using Seville oranges

How many oranges are there in Seville?
On the official count there are 31,306 orange trees in the city of Seville, producing just over 4 million kilos of oranges.

There’s still time to get to Seville to see the orange trees in full fruit, or in full bloom. A few weeks after the harvest (late February-early March) is orange blossom season, when for about three weeks the city is full of the smell of the azahar. This is one of the best times of year to visit Seville, but book an apartment now, while there’s still space!

Seville | Orange Days

Whether by chance or careful selection, Valentine’s day in Seville marks the start of the Third Annual Edition of Las Jornadas Gastronómicas de la Naranja, a culinary competition for creating tapas using bitter oranges, which this year boasts more than thirty participating tapas bars and restaurants, and will last ten days.

seville orange days

If you’ve ever been to Seville, or are a keen marmalade maker, you’ll already know that Seville is famous for its orange trees, which are harvested at this time of year. Despite the close association of Seville with oranges, they are not, in fact, native to this part of the world, but come originally from the Far East. The first orange trees in Seville are believed to have been planted in the 12th century, primarily for shade and decoration – bitter oranges were chosen so that people wouldn’t eat them off the trees! Even today, the biggest consumers are the English. Seville oranges are the best in the world for making marmalade!

orange harvestorange harvest in Plaza del Salvador

The tapas on offer include Iberian ham with orange sauce, roast beef and macerated orange in puff pastry, and an orange salmorejo with flakes of cod and leek.

There will be a panel of expert judges, but the public will also be able to vote for their favourite tapas (see the full list of participants below), which will give them a chance to win 1 of 10 hampers of orange goodies from local suppliers such as Basilippo, Inés Rosales and la Vieja Fábrica.

A rather nice touch is that on Feb 14 at Santa Justa, and Feb 17 at the airport, arrivals will be greeted with an orange and a brochure about the competition.

The Alfonso XIII hotel will host an orange products trade show on the 21st and a cooking demonstration on the 22nd, both events starting at midday.

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