Where am I from?
You would expect a Seville Orange to hail from Spain, and I do, although originally I'm from China (like all citrus fruits.) While my sweeter cousins gained in popularity my bitter, tart taste and high pectin content mean I'm highly sought after for marmalade. I'm also used in Cointreau, Triple Sec and other flavoured liqueurs.
What do I look like?
I'm orange! (I know, what are the odds...) I've a thicker skin than other oranges and am heavily dimpled. My peel contains fragrant essential oils. The peel is what gives orange flower water its amazingness.
And on the inside?
Pale, translucent orange segments, lots of seeds, my flesh when ripe is exceptionally juicy with a tart, sour tang. The pith is where I store all the pectin, great for marmalade, bitter by itself. You may get a nasty shock if you bite into me expecting a sweet orange and instead get all of the sour tang of Seville instead.
What do I do?
Bitter oranges have become popular as a herbal remedy since 2004 when the US Food and Drug Administration banned Ephedra sinica products. March 2011 HerbalGram, the quarterly Journal of the American Botany Council. A not for profit research and educational organization announced “based on current research as well as the extensive ingestion of bitter oranges and p-synephrine…the data demonstrate that bitter orange extract is safe for human consumption.”
Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and some other citrus fruit, including Seville oranges, limes and pomelos, contain a class of chemical called furanocoumarins. Furanocoumarins inhibit an enzyme, cytochrome P450 3A4, that is responsible for the inactivation of approximately half of all drugs. This means that if a drug that is normally broken down by cytochrome P450 3A4 is taken at the same time as grapefruit, more ‘active’ drug will be absorbed by the body, as less will have been inactivated by the enzyme. The prescribed dose of these drugs takes into account the fact that some of the drug will be inactivated by P450 3A4. So if this doesn’t occur, it leads to the person being exposed to higher concentrations of the drug than was intended, and this can have adverse effects. Furanocoumarins are not present in varieties of sweet orange, such as naval or Valencia oranges.
Basically this means that if you are taking medications, check with your doctor and pharmacist about interactions. Marmalade is probably fine, but litres of grapefruit and bitter orange to wash down your medication is probably not!
Want to buy me? Follow this link to Real Foods Seville Oranges