What the Fork: Bitter grapes about sour orange

By Wynter Holden

While house hunting a few years ago, I saw one cottage with a lovely orange tree in the backyard. The house itself was nothing special. But the tree was perfect. I imagined myself picking plump ripe oranges and making fresh juice; the first step on my way to becoming the domestic goddess of my new domicile.

sour%20orange.bmpThen my husband snuck up behind me and squashed my dream like, well, an orange beneath his big, clumsy foot. According to him, the tree was decorative and would produce bitter, inedible fruit. I'd forgotten all about that house and the sweet little tree, until a recent exploration of the menu at Scottsdale's Pepin Spanish Restaurant yielded "fresh pork leg marinated in sour orange." Yum!

I looked up sour orange and lo and behold there was a picture that looked just like the pretty orange tree at that cottage in East Mesa. The sour orange tree (also called bitter orange) produces edible fruit just like its sweet cousins. The taste is pungent enough to dissuade most people from eating sour oranges raw, but it's perfect for making marmalade or other sweetened sauces like the one used on Pepin's pork legs.

I could let my hubby in on his little citrus snafu, but that would just sound like sour grapes. Or oranges, in this case.


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