Origin of Oranges

Valencian oranges and tangerines are the real “gold” of the Valencian Community, which occupies the first position in the cultivation of fruits, especially citrus fruits, in Spain and also one of the main positions in Europe. Therefore, it occupies a central place  in the Valencian culture and history: the picture of oranges can be found literally everywhere in Valencia from the facade of the Estacion del Norte  to the bas-reliefs of the Silk Exchange Building. For the same reason, one of the team colors of the city’s main club, FC Valencia, is orange, and the stands of the Mestalla stadium are also painted in it. Can not avoid  to mention the huge number of fragrant tangerine and orange trees that are growing in Valencia  almost everywhere. Thanks to the unique climate of our region, citrus fruits are harvested here throughout ¾ of the year. Of course, the peak yield falls in the latest autumn and winter months, just in time for the Christmas table, but oranges can be found on the shelves of  Valencian shops all year round. 

Just a few words about the history of these fruits for you. Historically, an orange is a hybrid of a mandarin and a pomelo. Its homeland is the lands of China and India, where this plant was grown for 2.5 thousand years before our era. Portuguese navigators who traveled to China called the unusual fruit “Chinese apple”.

Bitter orange was brought to Europe by the Arabs, through the Iberian Peninsula. Because of the bitterness, this fruit was used as a medicine and a base for the essential oils.

The sweet orange, which grew in China and in the Himalayas, was discovered in 1520 by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama.A century later, they became a fashion item: they were grown in so-called greenhouses (the word “greenhouse” comes from orange), turned into candied fruits, used for table setting, presented as a gift. By the way, the one who made such a gift was considered a very rich man with good taste.

Since the XVII century, oranges have been cultivated in Spain, mainly in Valencia. Overseas fruits quickly took root in their new homeland, saving them from colds in winter and quenching thirst in hot summer.

One of the diseases that plagued Europe until the XVIII century was scurvy. Due to the lack of vitamin C, people had dark purple spots on their skin, gums bled. This disease was common among sailors who went on long voyages and for a long time ate monotonously, without fresh fruit.

The Scottish physician James Lind was the first to demonstrate that scurvy can be treated with citrus fruits. He told about it in his book “A Treatise on scurvy”, published in 1753. This discovery guaranteed the rapid spread of the orange in Europe.

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