The orange tree has been grown in Asia since antiquity, but it was not until the 1st century BC that the western world would become acquainted with its fruit. Historians state that there were oranges growing in India 7,000 years ago. The name orange is believed to from narangah, which is the Sanskrit word for the fruit. Orange peel and juice have been used in Indian cooking since around this period.
The ancient Romans would become acquainted with oranges at around the 1st century BC as a result of trade with Persians who brought it from Southeast Asia. The Romans began cultivating it in North Africa around the 1st century AD. Oranges would reach the Middle East when the Roman Empire declined and Northern Africa fell under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate. At this point in history, the export of oranges to Europe stopped.
By around the 10th century, China’s first orange orchards would be established with oranges being widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The trade of oranges to Europe would not see a resurgence until the 11th century.
In the 15th century, Columbus would bring orange seeds to what is now Haiti, where he grew orange orchards. Oranges would be introduced to the Americas by various Spanish explorers including Ponce de Leon, who is said to have planted the first orange tree in Florida.
Orange peel flavor profile
Orange fruits have a distinctive aroma and sweetness with the peel being the most aromatic part of the fruit. Orange peel brings a sharp, tangy quality to foods flavored with it. The flavor peel from most orange varieties is sweet, with notes of pomegranate and raspberry along with a hint of bitterness.
Health benefits of orange peel
There are several important nutrients that you can get from orange peel, the list includes:
- Flavonoids: Orange peel is a rich source of flavonoids including hesperidin.
- Vitamins: Orange peel provides a substantial amount of vitamin C but it also contains a variety of B vitamins.
- Beta-Carotene: The orange color of oranges is due to the presence of the pigment called beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.
The compounds in orange peel may be effective at reducing the risk of certain diseases or may be good for treating them. These diseases include:
- Cancer: The flavonoids that you get from orange peel are believed to be effective for the prevention of cancer. They inhibit a specific protein that may prevent the development of cancer and other serious diseases.
- Inflammation: Nutrients found in orange peel may keep your body from releasing histamine, which is a compound that plays a role in inflammation.
- Dental and skeletal issues: The vitamin A in orange peel is beneficial for the health of your teeth and bones.
Common uses of orange peel
It’s best-known uses in western cuisine include candied orange peel that is made by boiling the peel in a syrup. Candied orange peel can be consumed by itself or you can use it to garnish cakes and cocktails. Marmalade is another popular western use for orange peels. It is also great for flavoring homemade cranberry sauce and can be added to tea blends. Use it to flavor vegetables or infuse rice with the flavor by adding the peels to the water in which it will be cooked. In India, orange peel is used to make chutneys and to flavor curries. Chinese dishes that include it include orange chicken and orange beef.
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