OUR FRUIT - Sweet orange (citrus sinensis)
Oranges are the 4th most cultivated fruit in the world, surpassed only by grapes, bananas and apples. It has a worldwide market and its main producers are Brazil, the United States and Morocco. Most of the production is for the agri-food industry : concentrates and fruit juices (the most popular fruit juice in the world), ingredient in drinks, etc. In terms of fresh fruit consumption, it holds the second position in France, behind the apple and before the banana.
Our Corsican and organic production is minuscule in comparison… and it represents a low volume compared to our clementine and grapefruit productions.
Seems illogical ? Yes, because the orange tree is perfectly adapted to our soils and weather. Orange trees had a prominent place in ancient orchards intended for subsistence. Hardier than clementine trees, they are admired in gardens and around the villages, where exceptional orange trees are not a rare sight.
The reason why the orange tree has not kept its ranking today in Corsica for production intended for sale is because of its low price, far below a fair price. , which forces farmers to give up growing oranges. The orange is relegated to a level of minor production, essentially intended – like lemon or avocado – for customers that care about local purchases !
The orange tree originates from China.
There are two great pathways that led this fruit to Europe :
Introduced by the Persians and Arabs, bitter oranges (Seville oranges) were brought back from crusades to Sicily, and expanded from there.
As for sweet oranges, they were discovered in China in the 16th century by Portuguese sailors. The expansion of orange crops really began from there.
Sweet oranges come in a variety of shapes and tastes, as well as a long production period (6 months) throughout a region or country.
The varieties are divided into four groups :
- NAVEL ORANGES,recognizable by their navel-like hollow opposite from the stalk. Navel varieties are the first oranges in season. Their colour (skin, flesh and juice) is uniformly orange. They are found from the end of October to early November.
- BLOND ORANGES, orange in colour, harvested in peak season (winter).
- BLOOD ORANGES are a colourful variety with completely or partially red skin and/or flesh. These are peak-season varieties.
- LATE ORANGES end the season in the spring. They are orange in colour.
Moreover, the orange is not a fragile fruit and can be cold stored for several months. It can therefore be marketed long after harvesting. Still, the Northern Hemisphere (mainly Spain, Italy and Morocco) do not cover a full consumption year. In the summer and autumn, oranges originate mainly from the Southern Hemisphere (high importation).
The varied collection in old Corsican gardens is very rich and includes all types of sweet oranges.
As for the Alimea orchard, it is limited to two locations : a very small diversified orchard and a 5-hectare plantation with the Tarocco Rosso variety.
The Tarocco Rosso orange is a light blood orange, meaning that its colour is halfway between a blond orange and a true blood orange.
The colouring of light blood oranges is more irregular and varies greatly from one year to the next (depending on weather) and even from one tree to the next on the same plantation. Oftentimes, a light blood orange is discovered only after peeling it, with part of its pulp being various shades of red… Sometimes, most fruits are even the same colour as blond oranges !
The main difference between light blood and blood oranges, other than the difference in colour intensity, is the nature of pigments : solely lycopene and other carotenoids for light blood oranges, while dark red ones also produce anthocyanins.
Oranges are enjoyed as a dessert or snack.
Let's not forget either its home use for freshly-squeezed juice : it doesn't get any fresher than this… All you need is a simple orange squeezer. It's easy, quick and entertaining for kids, and orange skin is compostable : no glass or tetra-brick to recycle !
Also of note is that orange zest is used, in grated or chopped form, for cooking, baking, herbal teas and other drinks and candied orange peels (easy recipe).
See our recipes :