Citrus - Orange

Members of the Orange family, which include navels, Valencias, clementines, and tangerines, trace a clear lineage to the mandarin, and can be further broken down into three categories: those good for eating out of hand, those good for juicing, and those specialised for scenting or candy-making. 

Tangerines (from Tangier) may be the ultimate peel-and-eat fruit, smaller than most other oranges, they have soft skins and segments that are easy to separate, with sweeter, less sour juice. Seeded mandarins, seedless clementines and satsumas; and tangelos are close relatives, typically on the sweet side.

Navel oranges are the other classic eating oranges, larger and firmer than tangerines, with a robust, more acidic orange flavour. Sweeter still are blood oranges, which, unlike navels, don’t peel easily, but are best for eating raw.

History

The history of citrus and alcohol together is twofold – these fruits were originally used to improve the flavour profiles of spirits such as rum and gin, but also incorporated into alcoholic beverages for health reasons. Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which helped combat Scurvy in colonial Europe.

Oranges, and all citrus fruits, originated in the Southeast Himalayan foothills, in a region including the eastern area of Assam (India), northern Myanmar and western Yunnan (China). A fossil specimen from the late Miocene epoch (11.6 - 5.3 million years ago) from Lincang in Yunnan, China has traits that are characteristic of current major citrus groups, and provides evidence for the existence of a common Citrus ancestor within the Yunnan province approximately 8 million years ago.

Not much is known about the orange in human context prior to 314, when the first written evidence of the fruit appeared out of China. Fast forward 400 years... the sour orange (mix of Type 1 Mandarin and Pomelo) was spread by Moors following the Islamic Conquest in the 8th century. At the time, the Arab empire stretched from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Europe (including Sicily and the Iberian Peninsula). The sour orange was not palatable, but was used widely by herbalists to make medicinal syrup. Among the earliest text-based evidence of the sour orange outside Southeast Asia is from 940. Golden Lawns by al-Mas'udi stated that the sour orange was brought to Oman after 912. By the turn of the 11th century, the sour orange had spread through the modern day Arab world to Persia, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain, and subsequently to Sardinia and Sicily in Italy.



Sources through East Asia:  South East China, Indonesia & The Malay Archipelago.

Traditional Uses: Scurvy Preventative, vitamin C source, popular drinking juice, additive in fresh food and used as a stabiliser.

Exerted flavour profile: Oils and natural acid, sweetness, fresh fruit and body.

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