The Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis) is one of the most popular fruits eaten right across the world and luckily for us it grows in the winter, giving us a delicious fruit bursting with Vitamin C to keep colds and flu at bay. Originally from Asia, this juicy sweet fruit was introduced to Europe by the Moors in the 15th century and then on into America with the Spanish in the 16th century, thus starting to accumulate food miles and conquering the world.
We grow a couple of varieties on our organic farm and the heady scent of the blossom permeates the air each spring, with a promise of bountiful fruit that we pick from May until July. Oranges are fairly easy to grow in the garden; they do prefer sandy soils and will need light pruning after they fruit, but can look very beautiful as a central feature in a vegetable garden.
Oranges are not only loaded with Vitamin C; they have anti-inflammatory properties, making them the ideal fruit for eating during the winter months. I use them often in baking, in salads and for healthy desserts anointed with honey. Try to buy organic oranges as the zest can adds lots of flavour to a variety of dishes and non-organic oranges are often waxed, making the skin unusable.
Sautéed Oranges with Lavender, Vanilla and Honey (serves 4)
Two oranges, peeled and sliced
Two tablespoons honey
One vanilla pod
Two sprigs lavender
- Place the slices of orange into a shallow pan on a medium heat. As they warm they will start to release some of their juices.
- Add the Lavender flowers, vanilla pod (split in half) and the honey.
- When the honey has dissolved remove the orange slices from the pan, then heat the remaining juice, honey, lavender and vanilla until the mixture starts to boil.
- Remove from the heat and let the liquid cool.
- Pour the cool liquid through a fine sieve onto the orange slices.
- I like to serve this with some biscotti and either vanilla ice Cream or natural yoghurt.
Honey, Oat and Orange Zest Biscuits (makes about 20)
75grm rolled oats
200grm plain flour
50grm brown sugar
One tablespoon honey
200grm unsalted butter
Zest of one unwaxed orange
- Mix all the ingredients together and form into small balls.
- Place the dough balls on a lined baking tray with a space between them to allow for spreading during baking.
- Press the balls with a fork to flatten slightly.
- Bake at 180 degrees C or gas mark 4 for 12 minutes. They will be slightly brown.
- Allow to cool for five minutes before placing on a tray to cool completely.
Winter Orange Salad (serves 4)
A crisp winter salad with an orange-infused dressing
One small white cabbage
One small red onion
Two fennel bulbs
For the dressing
150ml olive oil
Juice of one orange
One tsp Dijon mustard
One teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
- Finely slice the salad ingredients.
- Peel and slice the orange (removing all the pith).
- Place the salad ingredients onto a serving platter or salad bowl.
- For the dressing, dissolve the mustard into the orange juice, add the honey and whisk until amalgamated with the orange and mustard.
- Add the oil, whisk until smooth and season to taste.
- Pour the dressing generously over the salad.
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