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Bitter orange

Citrus aurantium – the robust orange that is very useful and ornamental

Bitter orange
 
 
 

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Product information "Bitter orange"

The bitter orange Citrus aurantium came as one of the first citrus species, so to speak as a vanguard, to Europe. Originating from China, it was the Arabs, with the help of which this citrus species was first spread throughout the Mediterranean and then brought to Italy by crusaders traveling to Palestine. In southern Spain, in the former Arab Andalusia, one can still see the wonderful bitter orange groves beside the former mosques. Due to its stature, the bitter orange Citrus aurantium can be characterised as a very vigorous and upright growing plant. It has deep green, strikingly beautiful leaves that grow on the stems that are unmistakably winged by bitter oranges. During the flowering period, which takes place mainly in the spring, it shines in a charming white and smells very pleasant, as we know it only from sweet oranges. The spherical fruits have an uneven, rough peel and are flattened at their ends. The taste of Citrus aurantium is slightly bitter and slightly sour. The rich orange colour of these gorgeous-looking exotics appears in late autumn. Even if you leave the fruits of your bitter orange Citrus aurantium for months on the tree, they will not by any means get unsightly or spoil. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why the Arabs spread the bitter oranges in their kingdom in the first place: thanks to the blossoms and the orange fruit hanging for so long, they have both usefulness and ornamental value, and they are suitable for moorish gardens as well as your terrace.
 
Using the fruits
Like many other varieties, the fruits of Citrus aurantium are very versatile, but are not necessarily suitable for regularly eating raw. For culinary use, they are considered to be very valuable, for example, if they are processed to compote, jam (for example, the famous Sevilla jam) or juice. In the Southeast Asian region, cultivation is even commercially practiced today, as the health-promoting ingredients of these bitter oranges are highly valued there. And not to forget this: the quality of essential oils, which can be obtained from the bitter orange, is said to exceed that of other citrus plants and especially the sweet orange many times over.
 
Using essential oils from the bitter orange Citrus aurantium
While most of these essences for the aroma cuisine are produced by very complicated steam distillation, for the citrus oils, is it sufficient to cold press the peel in a much simpler process. However, to extract half a litre of this concentrate requires about 1,500 organic fruits. A single drop of this oil is just as strong as about 30 bitter orange tea bags. Because essential oils tend to be so highly concentrated, they are only used in the kitchen at a very low dose. For half a drop of bitter orange Citrus aurantium oil, it is better to stick a toothpick into the pressed oil. With the toothpick that is moistened with oil, the food, for example cake dough, now only needs to be stirred. This "secret recipe" from healthy organic cooking is used by large supermarkets, especially in the high-volume pre-Christmas period, letting their customers have a sample of the happy-making scent of bitter orange around their noses right at the entrance.
 
Caring for the bitter orange Citrus aurantium
Exotic beauties with magnificent fruits and a really seductive fragrance – all of this does not come all by itself. Citrus plants, such as our new bitter orange Citrus aurantium, not only require warmth, sun and light, but also the combination of potting soil (container soil, Lubera's Fruitful Soil No. 1, fertiliser (Frutilizer Instant Citrus) and water. The potting soil and fertiliser are available in the Lubera shop; the regular watering would be your only part...
 
Watering the bitter orange Citrus aurantium
Citrus plants are totally allergic to waterlogging and you've probably read about that before. But too much dryness can also be very dangerous for the plants. Here are two researchers with two opinions:
 
  • Oscar Tintori, arguably Toscana's most important Italian collector and producer of citrus fruits, said in 2000 that it would be better to water bitter oranges infrequently and pervasively than often and only in small quantities
  • The experienced horticultural scientist and citrus plant specialist Bernhard Voss advised this in 1997: "It is more damaging to the roots to be kept too moist for a longer period of time than to be too dry".
 
It is probably really best, after the extensive watering, to keep your hands off the watering can until the top 5-10 cm of potting soil has completely dried out. And it is even more important to grow the bitter orange in a pot that has enough drainage holes at the bottom and best on a grate or at least two simple wooden strips, so that the excess water can easily flow away.
 
Short description of the bitter orange Citrus aurantium
 
 
Growth: Strikingly vigorous as a tree or shrub; characteristic and very citrusy smell of the leaves; depending on the variety, the plant is spined differently; a height of the trees up to 3 metres is possible
Flowers: Strongly fragrant, bright, white flowers; occasionally blooms several times
Fruit: Thick-skinned, somewhat hard to peel fruit with a raised surface; green at the beginning of ripening, later bright orange towards the harvest (late autumn)
Use: Jam, juice, essential oils, seasoning for meat and fish dishes (the valuable peel of the bitter orange Citrus aurantium can be used!), wine, fruit liqueur, orange as an addition in cake dough
Hardiness/overwintering: Frost-resistant up to -4°C, but only for a short time; the bitter oranges are hardier than most other citrus species; overwinter in a bright and cool location at about 3-12°C
 
  • Available April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November
  • Use greenhouses/winter gardens, for containers, South- and West-facing walls, as a specimen plant
  • Hardiness place in an unheated room during the winter
  • Soil moist, dry, moderately heavy, light, neutral, slightly acidic
  • Location full sun
  • Flower Colour white
  • Leaf Colour green

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