Why the Orange trees
in the squares
Bitter orange of plaza or Naranjo bitter of sevilla
Many people wonder what kind of orange is the one we have in 9 de Julio square? Why are they there and no one picks them up? Are they edible?
In this note we tell you about its origin and we will answer these questions.
In the photo above we can see a partial view of the 9 de Julio square in the city of Salta and the orange trees in the sidewalks.
Why are bitter oranges bitter?
Bitter oranges come from a different tree from sweet oranges, Citrus aurantium. This tree was cultivated in ancient times as an ornamental tree or to use its fruits in cosmetics, but not for consumption.
Its bitter taste is due to the presence in the fruit of an organic compound called neohesperidine. This compound is extracted and used in the food industry as a sweetener, is between 250 and 1800 times sweeter than sucrose, and a more persistent sweet taste, similar to licorice.
But, of course, it does not contain the type and amount of sugar that a sweet orange, so its gastronomic use is much lower.
Origins of bitter orange
The bitter orange tree comes from South Asia, and spread to the Mediterranean, Syria and Palestine by the Arabs. The caliphs of Cordoba, during the ninth and tenth centuries, popularized its use as an ornamental plant, planting it in streets, gardens, courtyards and mosques. It is very common to see it still in areas of Andalusia, such as the famous Patio de los Naranjos de la Mezquita de Córdoba.
Bitter orange has been cultivated since ancient times, although as we have said it was used as a decorative element for its thick foliage and bright colors, or for cosmetic and even medicinal uses. Subsequently extended its use as an ingredient in jams and preserves, and in the production of liqueurs. Today it is exported to the whole world.
In America this Orange trees was introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century.
Types of bitter oranges
There are different varieties of bitter oranges, although the most cultivated in the Mediterranean is the Naranjo of Seville.
The fruits of Naranjo de Sevilla are highly prized to produce the well-known bitter orange jam because of its high pectin content. They are also used in the preparation of compotes and liqueurs.
Another variety is Citrus aurantium grown in southeastern Vietnam, which is basically used as a rootstock for other species of Citrus. Its fruit is used for the production of jams and liqueurs such as Triple Sec and Curaçao. They are also used in cosmetics, to extract essential oils.
The bergamia subvariety is grown in Italy to produce bergamot oil, component of many brands of perfume and tea. It is an essential ingredient in the famous Earl Gray tea.
Other sub-varieties are myrtifolia, originally from China, and daidai, used in traditional Chinese medicine and the celebration of Japanese New Year.
Of course you can make with this orange a delicious jam. It is believed that this jam originated in ancient Rome, in the attempt to preserve this fruit.