ON THE PLATE: GREEN ORANGES AND SOME FENNEL fun in summer
Slip slop slap – you know the drill and while we should protect our skins from harmful UV all year round, we’re more onto it during summer.
Well, oranges kind of do the same thing. I’m sure you have noticed that many oranges are green, or at least partly so, at this time of year. Oranges are a subtropical fruit and its colour depends on where it is grown. The ‘green’ is due to chlorophyll produced on the peel to protect itself from sunburn – don’t you just love that? Fruit that is tucked in among the leaves tend to be greener as the fruit is trying to maximise its access to the sunshine.
Just as an aside, the fruit came before the word for the colour we know as part way between red and yellow. The word “orange” is a derivative of the Arabic word naranji – and appeared in the English language as narange in the 14th Century,
eventually somehow losing the initial “n”. Oranges are a hybrid of tangerines and pomelos, which are pale green or yellow. First cultivated in south-east Asia – Vietnamese oranges and Thai tangerines are still bright green on the outside and the flesh inside is orange in colour.
The first large scale crops grown in the New World were planted by a Spanish explorer in Florida in 1513. Brazil now grows about a third of the world crop and 85 per cent of these oranges end up as juice.
While water sustainability and use is a hot topic right now, I found an interesting fact that it takes 50 glasses of water to produce just one glass of orange juice. Makes you stop and ponder for a moment that it’s probably better to consume the whole fruit!
Our own Riverina district is of course a wonderful source of citrus fruits – and I hasten to add that at present, you practically have to take out an additional loan to purchase lemons, which are being imported from the US.
I baulk at this and do try to seek out locally grown produce. I will have to have another try at successfully growing a lemon tree!
At least I had a fairly impressive crop of continental parsley and so decided to make a fennel and orange salad for a hot, summery night evening meal.
This salad is a perfect accompaniment to fish, which we’ve been eating a lot of lately. While I acknowledge that both oranges and fennel are usually more aligned with being at their best in the winter months, the lovely bulb of fennel
at the greengrocers just had me salivating for the sharp, palate cleansing flavour it provides – perfect in the heat we’ve had
over past weeks. Finished off with some mint leaves, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the clean, refreshing flavours of this colourful salad.