Monday, October 12, 2009

Sour Oranges

My most interesting local find this week were some Florida grown Sour Oranges at Whole Foods. I was surprised to see them because citrus fruits don't come in season for approximately another two months, but these are different. Sour Oranges were new to me. Their mottled, orange and green camouflage-pattern rinds attracted my interest immediately. I picked one up and smelled it, finding the Sour Orange to be wonderfully fragrant. If you nick the peel with your fingernail you can smell the aromatic oils which will remind you of natural cleaning products. In fact, many of these scents really come from Sour Orange oil, so that makes a lot of sense. I bought some sour oranges, having no idea what to do with them, and came home to do a little research. Remember, my local eating project has a lot to do with expanding my picky palate. I want to try lots of new things.

Here's what I found out: Sour Oranges are so tart and acidic that you can't eat them. They have to be used like lemons and limes and sweetened depending on the recipe. I also found out that Sour Orange juice is the basis for Mojo, the quintessential Cuban marinade of which I am a gigantic fan. You can also make marmalade (but I'll wait for more calamondins this winter) and Sour Oranges can be used to make curd or pie filling (a la Key Lime). Truly, the last thing I need to eat is pie, so I'm opting for the savory route and plan to soon make a big batch of homemade Mojo, which I shall use to marinate grilled chicken. I am currently toying with ideas and when I make the Mojo I will post all about it. Besides not needing to eat pie, the main reason I decided to use the Sour Oranges for Mojo was that I wanted to not only highlight local fruit, I wanted to celebrate local culture (Cuban) because South Florida's diversity is part of what makes this part of the world such a fun and unusual place to live.

One thing I have to mention here is that if you look in the picture, the sign that Whole Foods has advertising the Sour Oranges is really ridiculous. It says something to the effect that local fruit is good for lunches or ready to go or some such nonsense. Someone who doesn't know what this fruit is would think it was like a regular orange and meant for eating out of hand. Imagine this person's utter horror when taking a bite! Sour Oranges are not good for lunchboxes Whole Foods. Not unless you want to play a dirty trick on someone.

Here is some more info on Sour Oranges.

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