Spain: don’t eat the Oranges!
On our first trip to Spain we were amazed by the streets lined with oranges. Each tree seemed to produce hundreds of them. They added colour, a fragrant smell, and a bit of exoticness to the city.
We were curious. “Why aren’t people eating them off the tree? And why are some of them left to rot on the ground?” and more importantly “can we go ahead and grab some oranges?”.
We waited for the first person to pass by so we could ask. The man told us: “those kind of oranges are not good to eat, they’re very bitter and not meant for humans”.
I looked them up. The oranges (originally from Southeast Asia and brought to Spain by the Moors in the 10th century) go under a lot of different names including Bitter Orange, Seville Orange, Sour Orange, Bigarade Orange or Marmalade Orange. As the man told us, they’re not eatable. But they have other uses: 1) making marmalade. In fact the British love marmalade made from Seville Oranges 2) medicinal purposes: the rinds from the fruits and from the bitter leaves can be used to cure intestinal problems including constipation 3) the oil from the oranges are used in perfume or for flavouring in food 4) the fruit and leaves make lather and can be used as soap.
Another reason you shouldn’t pluck the oranges
You should also know that the oranges belong to local government bodies and that you can be fined for tampering with the trees or plucking the oranges. And while it seems the oranges just sit there I’m told a team of orange pickers comes by every once in a while to collect the oranges.
Related: The “exotic” Green Parrots of Spain
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I love making marmalade from all the citrus fruits orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat, limequat . Sometimes a single flavour, sometimes a mixture. It’s easy to make and makes lovely gifts.
Sounds like a marmalade cocktail 🙂
I love Seville Orange marmalade! It’s one of those once a year treats for us because import duty on anything is eye-watering but everytime we have some we remember those trees in Andalusia. We did the same – Cordoba was our first stop on the AVE from Madrid so we spent 2 nights before moving on. The number of oranges around us had some sort of jetlag related effect on me and I wanted to pluck one and just eat! My husband noticed that no one else was so he thought we should ask someone first, which we did at our hotel reception.
We’ve honestly never had the marmalade Claudine so I guess now we’ll have to try it! I thought “what a waste” when I heard you couldn’t eat them so it’s nice to know they have a purpose.