14 Ways To Use Sicilian Oranges

Last month whilst flying into Catania airport on a clear and sunny January day I could see all the beautiful orange groves that cover the plains of Catania and foothills of Mount Etna. This time of year is a wonderful time to visit Sicily as all the groves are heaving with orange trees bearing their abundance of juicy colourful fruits. 
There are around 67,000 hectares of orange groves in Sicily of which 70 per cent grow blood oranges during the growing season, which is January to May.
The groves in Sicily have a unique microclimate provided by Mount Etna. Warm days, cool nights and fertile volcanic soil allow Sicilians to produce what many say are the best oranges in the world.
As in the words of Oscar Wilde on his stay in Sicily “The Lemon groves and the Orange gardens were entirely perfect”.
Oranges have been cultivated in Sicily since ancient times, and cultivation has been documented since the time of Moorish rule. Whilst the Arabs are credited with originally planting the bitter orange trees in Sicily, the Genovese and Portuguese crusaders introduced sweeter varieties in the 15th century.
The delicious Sicilian blood oranges grow in the volcanic soil surrounding Mount Etna and  the variation in climate that exists there assists with the production of the anthocyanin pigments that gives the oranges that wonderful intense ruby red colour and makes them a powerful antioxidant. So they are super healthy. 
The Sicilian blood orange comes in three varieties, Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello.
The Tarocco variety is seedless and has a yellow-orangey colour with reddish pigments. Its moderately juicy flesh makes it an ideal orange to eat but it also produces an excellent tasting sweet juice. The Moro variety matures earlier than the other types and is slightly egg shaped with an intense winey coloured flesh.The Sanguinello variety, the oldest of the three types, has an extremely juicy flesh and virtually no seeds and so is ideal for juicing. 
Having a home in Sicily and particularly living near Mount Etna we always have an ‘abundance of oranges’ and we are completely surrounded by orange trees everywhere we go. 
I can remember on our first trip to Sicily sitting on the terrace of La Botterestaurant in Taormina enjoying an evening meal when a rogue orange fell out of the tree we were sitting under and hit my husband on the head, maybe it was a sign that we were destined to return.

Orange blossom is called Fiori di Arancio which has a wonderful delicate scent. On Mount Etna the native Sicilian black bee (Nero d'Ape) feeds on the blossom and hence in Sicily we can enjoy delicious orange blossom honey. 

In The Godfather trilogy oranges pop up with great frequency in the three movies. The director Francis Ford Coppola states that this started out as an accident but once he realised that he had used oranges so frequently in the first movie he started to purposely use them in subsequent movies. Fans of the trilogy suggest that they indicate death or the threat of violence for the character interacting with the orange. There are up to twenty scenes where oranges are featured so now you have a good excuse to watch the whole trilogy to see how many you can spot.
As with lemons, friends will often arrive at our home with bags full of oranges and we always put them to good use.
Therefore here are 14 ways I use our gorgeous Sicilian oranges;
Eat Them ... Oranges are highly beneficial for your body as they offer lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Oranges are chock-full of Vitamin C which helps to lower the risk of disease. They are also rich in Vitamin A which protect your eyes for good vision. They provide potassium, a mineral responsible for healthy heart function and they are full of soluble fibre which is especially beneficial for lowering cholesterol. They are easy to carry around since their thick skin protect them from bruising.

Juice Them ... A recent study found that our ability to absorb the nutrients from oranges is actually better in liquid form. Make the most of the delicious goodness from the fruit and squeeze your own oranges. Nothing is better than a tall glass of fresh orange juice early in the morning especially whilst sitting in the Sicilian sun. 

Orange and Fennel Salad ... On a hot Sicilian day sometimes you need a fresh delicious salad. This traditional Sicilian salad of orange and fennel is served all over the island. Cut off the tops of the fennel bulbs and slice thinly into rings and place into a bowl. Cut away the skin and pith from the oranges and slice into circles then add to the fennel. Make a salad dressing by mixing orange juice from half an orange and half a lemon with an equal amount of olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over the orange and fennel then serve. Perfecto.

Marmalade ... What could be more comforting than homemade marmalade spread onto a freshly made slice of Sicilian bread? Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. The sweetness of Sicilian oranges lends a fantastic flavour to this traditional breakfast treat. Homemade marmalade is pure joy and it can also be used as a filling for crostata

Orange Pomander ... Orange pomanders fill our Sicilian house with a wonderful scent and they look pretty too. Use a tooth pick to create holes in the skin of the oranges creating your own design and then press cloves into the holes. You can hang them, arrange them in a bowl or why not give them away as gifts to the friends that gave you the oranges in the first place (maybe this is why I am gifted so many bags of oranges). 

Sicilian Orange Cake ... One of my favourite recipes by UK celebrity chef Rick Stein, who is a big fan of all things Sicilian, is his Sicilian orange cake which uses 85ml of fresh orange juice with extra to make a zingy icing. Using Sicilian blood oranges give the cake a wonderfully natural pink hue that never fails to impress my Sicilian friends.

Candied Orange Peel ... By mixing 600g of sugar with 300ml of water, bring it to the boil, adding sliced orange peel and simmering for up to 3 hours or until the peel has absorbed all the syrup, you can create a delicious sweet treat. For even extra temptation dip the candied slices in melted chocolate. 

Orange Zest ... Zest is prepared by scraping or grating the skin of the orange, the zest can then be used to add flavour to recipes such as cakes and biscuits or even to a salad.

Herbal Tea ... In winter months there is no better way to warm up than with a hot cup of tea. Traditionally orange peels are used in tea to help with stomach cramps and as an appetite stimulant, add cloves for a delicious additional spicy taste. 

Orange Ice Cream ... By whipping up the juice and zest of three large Sicilian oranges, 175g of icing sugar and 584ml of double cream then freezing, you can make a delicately flavoured smooth ice cream. A perfect accompaniment to your Sicilian orange cake. 

Preserve Brown Sugar ... In Sicily we drink a lot of coffee preferably with brown sugar rather than white, however in the warm heat the brown sugar can stick together. A neighbour once told me to put a piece of orange peel in the sugar bowl to prevent the sugar forming clumps and I can declare that it does work. 

Garnish a Cocktail ... Who doesn't enjoy a refreshing cocktail in the Sicilian sunshine? Garnish an Aperol Spritz, summer's most fashionable sexy cocktail, with an orange slice. Sicilians absolutely love Aperol which is an aperitif made from bitter oranges or why not try the brand new Solerno liqueur which is jam packed with blood oranges from the sun drenched slopes of Mount Etna. 

Wedding Inspiration ... If you are lucky enough to be getting married in Sicily this year then why not use oranges as your inspiration and theme. Pin escort cards into the fruit as a table plan or why not cut the top off and scoop out the segments to use as decorative lanterns with tea lights inside (perfect for Sicilian home inspiration too). 

Mosquito Repellent ... Mosquitoes hate the smell of lemon and orange peels. Rubbing citrus peels on your skin or grating peels around your porch, patio, or campsite can help repel mosquitoes the natural way. 

If you enjoyed this post then you will love from my archive"14 Ways to Use Sicilian Lemons"


And so back to the Godfather .....
How many scenes featuring oranges did you get right?
Photo Credit: Pinterest
When in Sicily why not book a Godfather Tour and visit the filming locations where these celebrity oranges were featured 

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Love Sarah and Daisy x