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Jan 22, 2008 03:52 PM

Sour Oranges for Cuban food?

Many recipes for Cuban food require sour oranges. I have orange trees in my yard. If I pick them before they are ripe, would they replicate the desired flavor of Cuban sour oranges? Is there a particular bouquet that separates them from regular oranges? Thanks in advance!

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  1. You could try them. Some advocate using orange with lemon or lime as an alternative to the sour orange.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scubadoo97

      I was going to post this same thing, when I saw the title of this thread. Just add some lemon or lime juice to the juice of an orange and you will get a fairly close flavor. Outside of Miami, its hard to find the sour oranges.

    2. I have yet to track down commercially available naranjas agrias, even here in Tampa. I've checked Mexican produce markets, but I haven't ventured too far from home, yet, just for the sake of citrus. I do have a friend whose parents have an ungrafted orange tree, and sometimes I am lucky enough to score some wonderful sour oranges. When I haven't had any of those, I have used a mixture of Florida oranges, Persian limes, and white graprefruit juices for Cuban and Mexican recipes. I use an approximate 1:1:1 ratio. It works well, as you get the sour and the bitterness found in the real thing.

      Growing up, our next door neighbor had an enormous ungrafted orange tree that produced a bumper crop every year. Neither the neighbor nor anyone else wanted anything to do with the fruit. How I wish now that I had picked that tree clean every winter for delicious mojo and cochinita pibil. There is even an old Florida recipe for Sour Orange Pie that I have heard of and read about. I'd love to try that now that it's the season. Perhaps if I am near the old neighborhood again soon, now an hour away and my parents no longer living there, I will have to pay a visit my childhood neighbors and their bountiful orange tree.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Agent Orange

        Hi, we have a sour orange tree in our backyard and for the first time last fall it produced a lot of fruit. When we tried to eat it but we were disapointed cuz it was so sour. After reading
        here and a few other places we now understand. I wouldnt mind parting with the fruits cuz i dont think we will ever use it. Not sure fruit can be sent across state borders.

        1. re: Agent Orange

          Suggestion to texphlex: get a good juicer and freeze the juice!

        2. I'd agree with scubadoo97. I think it'd have to be as good as the substitutes and since you have them available, go for it. I'd try to get them just before the start their "final countdown" to sweetening up, though; too early and they won't have any flavor to speak of as you surely know. The aroma and flavor of sour oranges is distinctive - when it's confusing, I distinguish them in stores by scratching the rind with my fingernail - but it's not vastly different - it's still "orange."

          As for other possibilities, since sour oranges haven't historically been too difficult to find in NYC, I've never tried her substitute but I've always thought Diana Kennedy's combination of grapefruit, orange and lime juice made more sense than just cutting orange juice with lime, since sweet orange juice is *so* freaking sweet.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeG

            I have a bottle of Sour Orange from:

   located in Miami.

            I found it in MA.

            Don't know if this will work in your recipes, but it is worth a try.

            Actually I have no idea why I have it, but it is half gone. I think it has been in the fridge for a year or two! Time to discard.

            1. re: hummingbird

              I"ve used it and it's okay. Not like fresh citrus when available

          2. My local greenmarket doesn't stock them. They say they're too ugly and don't sell. They were nice enough to buy a case just for me and now my freezer is filled with 1/2 c. portions of the juice. (I think the season lasts though Feb. but I received mine a couple of weeks ago.)

            1. See this recent topic for the El Mexicano distributed product (pure Seville orange juice):
              It's pretty good but, of course, not as good as fresh citrus.
              The substitute combos of orange, lime and grapefruit will substitute fine IMO.