Sour orange juice, a unique seasoning taste

Sour orange نارنج also referred to as bitter orange is a variety of citrus tree native of Southeast Asia but widely used in the Middle East, parts of Europe and US.  In my hometown Shiraz, almost every house with a backyard used to have a couple of sour orange trees which wore perfumed, white robe of blossoms in the spring and orange robe of fruit in early summer.  The blossoms of sour orange, bahaar-e naaranj, were used to make sherbet and jams, or sundried to be mixed with loose, black tea.  The fruit itself, too, has many culinary usages including for seasoning.

Here in Montreal, Iranian supermarkets carry sour orange right on time before the official spring season starts.  Right on time I said because sour orange has a special spot both on our Norooz table as well as with the herbed-rice and fish that we serve on the first day of the Persian New Year, Norooz.

Try sour orange juice as salad dressing on your daily green salad, along with sea salt, black pepper, and any other seasoning you happen to use.  Spur orange tastes less acidic than lemon and lime but definitely more sour than normal orange. You could simply squeeze on your salad or juice it in a juicer first.  Either way, and for all kind of usages, always peel the rinds across the middle so that when cut in half the bitterness of the hard skin would not infuse the pulp.

In addition to salad, sour orange juice could be used in cooking as seasoning.  The mildly sour taste goes extremely well with cabbage mixed rice as I described here. See step 2.

Finally, here is my treat for you – people buying sour orange in an open market in Shiraz – Yes, apparently they no longer grwo them in their backyard!

Photo taken by my sister in Spring 2017.



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