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Feb 5, 2013 07:00 AM

Uses for Bitter Oranges (other than the obvious Marmelade)

Hi there, I´m in the lucky position of getting a few pounds of fresh local Bitter Oranges, but I´m not sure what to do with them.

I´ll make Marmelade for sure,
but I was wondering if any of you know other uses for this strange fruit.
best, T.

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  1. Mojo marinade -- of Cuban extraction, and a stellar marinade for darned near anything.

    1. How about this recipe for Cochinita Pibil? I hear it's great!

      4 Replies
      1. re: ChristinaMason

        +1 for cochinita pibil.

        You can likely find premade spice paste, "achiote", in little boxes wherever you'd find Mexican ingredients. That's the anatto, garlic, and spices part of the Bayless recipe. El Yucateco is a good brand. It's a reasonable shortcut, just dilute with sour orange juice and you're good to go.

        If you've never been to the Yucatan, sour oranges are everywhere and used extensively. They're used to pickle red onions and in salsas like X'nipek (basically pico de gallo made with sour orange juice and habanero chile) and the ubiquitous salsa tamulada (simply roasted habaneros, sour orange juice, and salt -- extremely picante!).

        Then there's pollo pibil (substitute chicken breast for pork), poc chuc (grilled pork chops that have been marinated in sour orange juice), tzic de venado (also spelled "tzik", "dzik" - shredded venison salad), pavo en escabeche oriental (turkey marinated in sour orange juice), pescado en tikinxic (grouper or similar wrapped in banana leaf), and many others.

        1. re: Soul Vole


          You can also look for Pernil recipes. Daisy Marteniz's recipe is the one I have used.... it's very very good.

          Question for Soul Vole - does the Gringo work around - Using regular orange juice and lime juice make a for a good subsitute?

          This is what I have done in the past - I've never had a real Pernil or Conchita Pibil for that matter (though I have made my own using the orange and lime juice and have been very pleased with the results).

          Sour oranges are one of the only things I have a hard time finding in the bay area. Without making a trip to Berkeley Bowl

          1. re: sparky403

            I think a mix of lime and orange juice can give a reasonable approximation, and it's not going to matter too much in things like cochinita pibil where it's a background (though essential) flavor. I tried it once with the habanero salsa I mentioned and was disappointed.

            Here's Diana Kennedy's more sophisticated substitute (1/2 cup):

            1 t. finely grated grapefruit or green Meyer lemon rind
            2 T. fresh orange juice
            2 T. fresh grapefruit or Meyer lemon juice
            4 T. fresh lime juice

      2. I also think you could try subbing the juice in a key lime pie recipe.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ChristinaMason

          yes - sour orange pie is a thing of beauty. It will take more sour orange juice than lime juice, but it comes out sort of like a dreamsicle. Yum.

          1. re: sunshine842

            thank you for your suggestions, mojo marinade and Cochinita Pibil sound delicious and so does the pie!

            I can pick them up on thursday, and am really excited to have some new flavours in my kitchen!

            I was told they´ll keep up to two weeks, which will give me enough time to try different things!

            I´m just a bit worried as I was told that their taste is extremely bitter...

            but the internet says that pomeranzen (in german) are the same as sour/bitter oranges, namely Sevilla Oranges, so I´m optimistic!

            1. re: tobiask

              they are curl your hair/shatter your teeth bitter.

            2. re: sunshine842

              <it comes out sort of like a dreamsicle. >

              now I really want to try this :)

          2. I got them, aren´t they beautiful?

            6 Replies
            1. re: tobiask

              wow - those look a LOT different than the ones I buy in Florida or in France -- the ones I buy still look mostly like regular oranges, just with rough, bumpy skin. and lots of little cosmetic smudges on the outside.

              The one with the stripes and the star-shaped one are really interesting-looking.

              1. re: sunshine842

                they are from a very special collection that once belonged to the Austrian emperors family at the famous "Schloss Schönbrunn" in Vienna, who have been cultivating orange and lemons there for more than 350 years.
                some of the trees are over 150 years old.

                usually they are not open to the public but I got lucky through an Austrian food journalist and Blogger, who is friends with the Gardener (if you read this Katha - I can´t thank you enough)

                this is in German, but it´s worth it to check it out just for the pictures

                and if this doesn´t work, try this link

                oh and btw. the strangest thing about this is that it is winter here, the glasshouses have no heating, and austria is a very cold country. still the fruits are fresh from the tree...

                1. re: tobiask

                  How very cool! How neat that they're still producing and that you get to try the juice.

                  but they're *in* glass houses, yes?

                  Sour oranges are frequently used as grafted rootstock in places like Florida and California, because those varieties are much more pest- and cold-resistant than the varieties that produce sweeter fruit. I had a navel orange tree in Florida that was almost killed by a frost, and came back from below the graft -- the oranges were sour.

                  ETA: read the articles (my German's pretty rusty, but Google Translate makes it at least understandable, if not very good...) -- How amazing to have fruit from the same tree that gave Sissi her marmalade! (I love history almost as much as food, so mixing them makes me a happy girl)-- and I love, love love, the green-striped oranges.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    This is why I love Chowhound! This is the coolest thing I have learned in a while - awesome, thanks!!

                  2. re: tobiask

                    That is super cool! I've been to Schoenbrunn and have SEEN the orange trees in the orangerie. Awesome.

                    The fruit in the middle looks like a Buddha's hand, no?

                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      it is a Buddha's hand -- the text points it out.

              2. Don't ignore the zest! I've never worked with sour oranges but whenever I come across a new orange-colored citrus I throw a tiny slice of zest in a half-cup of vodka to see how it work as a triple-sec substitute. Once you get the flavor of it straight up you can combine it with regular oranges, tangerines or whatever to make a custom mix. This will put your margaritas over the top with very little effort.