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food & wine dictionary
Food and Wine Dictionary
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orange pekoe tea
Contrary to what most of us think, this fruit was not named for its color. Instead, the word
comes from a transliteration of the sanskrit
. . . which comes from the Tamil
. . . which means "fragrant." It's thought that the reason oranges have long been associated with fertility (and therefore, weddings) is because this lush evergreen tree can simultaneously produce flowers, fruit and foliage. Though oranges originated in Southeast Asia, they now also thrive around the world in warm-climate areas including Portugal, Spain, North Africa and, in the United States (the world's largest producer), Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. There are three basic types of orange sweet, loose-skinned and bitter.
are prized both for eating and for their juice. They're generally large and have skins that are more difficult to remove than their loose-skinned relatives. They may have seeds or be seedless. Among the more popular sweet oranges are the seedless
, the juicy, coarse-grained
and the thin-skinned, red-fleshed
. Sweet oranges are better eaten fresh than cooked.
are so named because their skins easily slip off the fruit. Their segments are also loose and divide with ease. Members of the
family are all loose skinned; they vary in flavor from sweet to tart-sweet.
, the most well-known of which are the
, are as their name implies too sour and astringent to eat raw. Instead, they're cooked in preparations such as
. Bitter oranges are also greatly valued for their peel, which is candied, and their essential oils, which are used to flavor foods as well as some
, such as
. Most of the bitter orange supply comes from Spain. USDA grading of oranges is voluntary and not considered necessary by most growers. The two grades used are
U.S. No. 1.
Fresh oranges are available year-round at different times, depending on the variety. Choose fruit that is firm and heavy for its size, with no mold or spongy spots. Unfortunately, because oranges are sometimes dyed with food coloring, a bright color isn't necessarily an indicator of quality. Regreening sometimes occurs in fully ripe oranges, particularly with Valencias. A rough, brownish area (russeting) on the skin doesn't affect flavor or quality either. Oranges can be stored at cool room temperature for a day or so, but should then be refrigerated and can be kept there for up to 2 weeks. Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain some vitamin A. Once cut or squeezed, however, the vitamin C quickly begins to dissipate. After only 8 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in the refrigerator, there's a 20 percent vitamin C loss. Canned, bottled and frozen-concentrate orange juices have a greatly decreased vitamin C content.
Material adapted from the
The New Food Lover's Companion
© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.
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