The Seville orange season is quite short, so I get excited when I see the trees laden with fruit which happens in winter before they go back into flower in spring, infusing the air with it’s perfume (known as azahar in Spanish).
The flavour of bitter oranges is considerably more complex than most other citrus fruits. Bitter oranges are tart (although not quite as tart as lemons), bitter and sour, sort of a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit. They do have a fantastic and distinct aroma, and the blossom infuses the streets in early spring.
Here in Gibraltar they grow in along a few roads and gardens, and in the south of Spain many towns and cities have Seville orange trees pretty much everywhere. Strangely the fruit is not consumed, presumably because it is so tart and many times goes to waste. However there are towns in the Seville area where the fruits are collected by British companies in order to make orange marmalade (hence the Seville orange name).
This is not a fruit that is eaten raw, at least not by most! Usually they are used for marmalade due to the high pectin content. I prefer to make a curd with them, sweet, tangy, tart, bitter and sour…quite a combination of flavours! The yield of this recipe is about 600ml of bitter orange curd. If you can’t find them you could use a combination of lemon and grapefruit. Another use for Seville oranges would be to use the juice in a cocktail…but that would be a different story!
- 1 kg of Seville oranges (6 or 7 oranges)
- 100 g butter
- 225 g granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 2.2 lbs of Seville oranges (6 or 7 oranges)
- 3½ oz butter
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp of sugar
- 3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
- Finely grate the zest of all oranges into a large bowl. I use a microplane grater which makes the job easier.
- Juice the oranges and add them to the bowl with the zest. The oranges have a ridiculous amount of pips and not as much juice as regular oranges, but 1kg of oranges should give around 400ml of juice.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl together with the sugar.
- Place the bowl on a double boiler (a bowl placed on top of a pan of simmering water), ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. This creates a seal and ensures the temperature of the mixture does not get too high.
- Lightly beat the eggs and extra yolk and leave to one side until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted (stir from time to time).
- At that moment start whisking and add the eggs slowly while you whisk. The temperature of the mixture needs to be low enough so that the eggs won’t coagulate so the water needs to be on a gentle simmer.
- Whisk for a minute or so when you add the eggs and then from time to time. As the temperature rises the mixture should start to thicken. This may take about 10-15 minutes, when the mixture is thickened and opaque then it is done. Remove from the fire and leave to cool.
- Sterilise a couple of jars but cleaning them in soapy water and placing in a preheated oven at 150C for 15 minutes or so.
- Store the curd in the jars and refrigerate.