Seville Sour Oranges & Fresh Bergamot



Seville Sour Oranges, for the uninitiated, are small oranges that are sour like a lime. This heirloom orange variety, which originated in Seville (the southern part of Spain that historically has a lot in common with north Africa, specifically Morocco) where it is commonly known as bitter orange. This is the orange that makes the best marmalade, and whose fragrant blossoms make orange flower water.  The fruit itself has traveled far and wide, and is used in plenty of Latin dishes: think sour orange ceviche, mojo, and lechon asado.  It is a key ingredient in the classic rendition of duck Bigarade, and down on the gulf coast, where they grow in people’s backyards, it’s often used as an alternative base for a key lime pie.  Chef/owner Carl Dooley, of the recently opened The Table, in Cambridge, says “Seville sour oranges add a unique acidity to our date-glazed lamb neck–we use the segments as little flavor bombs throughout the dish.”  Cara Chigazola, Chef de Cuisine of Oleana, tells us that she reaches for them when thinking of Moroccan dishes, and that “sour oranges are very common in tagines–I like the way the sourness of them helps cut through the fattiness of the meat.”



Bergamot, on the other hand, is less about it’s sour juice and more about it’s fragrant floral rind.  Kate Smith, Chef de Cuisine of Toro, is using fresh bergamot to infuse cream, and turning that into a base for spanish natillas, or custard, which they’re serving with house made Maria cookies.  This citrus, with roots in Calabria (where it is known as bergametto), is used there as a flavoring for gelato di bergametto, as well as soda, bitters, or a riff on limoncello. Consider zesting the rind and making some bergamot and rosemary (or bergamot and fennel seed) shortbread and pair it with Earl Grey.  Stock up on bergamot now, and make bergamot sugar: the rind will flavor the sugar as strongly as a vanilla bean.


*cool illustrations: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Diego Maldonado