Sicilian Red Orange

Sicilian Red Orange

The definition of Sicilian Blood Orange (PGI) refers to some varieties of oranges with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that are grown in some centers in the provinces of Catania, Enna and Syracuse.

Origins and History –
The history of Sicilian red oranges arises with the arrival, presumably directly from China, from which the primitive genetic nucleus from which the current citrus fruits are derived is differentiated. This is evidenced by the oldest documents in which pigmented oranges are mentioned.
It is given for sure that it was the Arabs who introduced the oranges to Asia Minor, Egypt, North Africa and Europe.
In particular, in Sicily, during the Arab domination (IX-XI century AD) bitter oranges and lemons were planted in so-called gardens, a term still used today, evocative of the ornamental function that initially the citrus groves had on the island.
In the second half of the 1800s cultivations in Sicily increased and towards the end of that century they began to be planted no longer in the hilly slopes or in the flat areas, but in the special citrus groves.
The largest investments in the new citrus cultivation took place in the Catania and Syracuse areas and it was these areas that became the favorite of the orange with red or pigmented pulp, consolidating this vocation during the 1900s.
We are therefore at the beginning of the 20th century when the cultivation of orange conquers the plain of Catania, above all following the reclamation of the marshlands; new varieties of red orange such as Sanguinello, Moro and Tarocco begin to appear.
In no other region of the Mediterranean area and of the American continent the pigmented cultivars have succeeded in producing fruits with the valuable qualities that distinguish the Sicilian red oranges, such as the intense coloring and the balanced relationship between sugars and acids.
The rigid night temperatures and the luminous intensity of the beautiful winter days are climatic characteristics of that part of Eastern Sicily particularly suited to the production of red oranges. The abundant amount of insolation allows the formation of high levels of sugars, essential for the formation of flavor, made tasty by the modest amount of precipitation.

Geographic area –
The production of orange fruits with red flesh is typical of that area of ​​Eastern Sicily located south south-west of Etna between the provinces of Catania, Enna and Syracuse. The municipalities where the cultivation is carried out are those of: Acate, Adrano, Augusta, Belpasso, Biancavilla, Buccheri, Caltagirone, Carlentini, Catania, Catenanuova, Castel di Iudica, Centuripe, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Comiso, Floridia, Francofonte, Grammichele, Lentini, Licodia Eubea, Mazzarrone, Melilli, Militello in Val di Catania, Mineo, Misterbianco, Motta Sant’Anastasia, Noto, Palagonia, Paternò, Priolo Gargallo, Ramacca, Randazzo (Limited to the area called Spanò island), Regalbuto, Santa Maria di Licodia, Scordia, Siracusa, Solarino, Sortino, Troina (limited to the area called Cugno di Troina) and Vittoria.

Raw material –
With the PGI designation it recognizes the following varieties as Sicilian red oranges:
– the Tarocco variety, with the clones: Tarocco Comune, Tarocco Galice, Tarocco Gallo, Tarocco Messina, Tarocco dal Muso, Tarocco Nucellare 57-IE-1, Tarocco Nucellare 61-1E-4, Tarocco Catania, Tarocco Scirè, Tarocco red;
– the Moro variety, with the following varieties and clones: Moro Comune, Moro Nucellare 58-8D-l;
– the Sanguinello variety, with the varieties and clones: Sanguinello Comune, Sanguinello Moscato, Sanguinello Moscato Nucellare 49-5-3, Sanguinello Moscato Nucellare 49-5-5, Sanguinello Moscato Cuscunà.

Description –
The oranges have a bright orange peel with varying red shades depending on the variety and the moment of harvest and sweet taste.
The Production Regulation of the Protected Geographical Indication “Arancia rossa di Sicilia” is regulated by the Circular of the Ministry for Agricultural Policies, which appeared in GURI n. 240 of 14 October 1997, which determines the Registration in the “Register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications” pursuant to EC Reg. No. 1107/96.
The fruits of “Arancia rossa di Sicilia” when released for consumption must respond to particular characteristics of the variety to which they belong.
– For the Tarot, these must have a shape: obovate or globose, with a more or less prominent base (“Muso” long or short); the skin color: orange with colored parts in more or less intense garnet red; the color of the pulp: orange with more or less intense red streaks in relation to the harvest period; the caliber: minimum 10 (diameter 60/68 mm); the juice yield: minimum 40%, determined by a juicer with a shaker; the total soluble solids content in the juice: minimum 10.0 expressed in Brix degrees; the maturation ratio: minimum 7.0, determined as Brix / acid ratio, expressing the acids as anhydrous citric acid.
– For the Moor, it must be of the following shape: globular or ovoid; the skin color: orange with more intense shades on one side of the fruit; the color of the pulp: entirely vinous red with advanced maturation; the caliber: minimum 10 (diameter 60/68 mm); the juice yield: minimum 40%, determined by a juicer with a shaker; the total soluble solids content in the juice: minimum 10, expressed in Brix degrees; the maturation ratio: minimum 6.5, determined as Brix / acid ratio, expressing the acids as anhydrous citric acid. The ratio of 5.5 for fruits harvested in December can be tolerated;
– for Sanguinello, this must have a shape: globose or obovate; peel color: orange with red shades; the color of the pulp: orange with red streaks; the caliber: minimum 10 (diameter 60/68 mm); the juice yield: minimum 40% determined by a juicer with a shaker; the total soluble solids content in the juice: minimum 10.0 expressed in Brix degrees; the maturation ratio: minimum 8.0 determined as Brix / acid ratio, expressing the acids as anhydrous citric acid.
In general, the Sicilian PGI red oranges are rich in nutrients that have beneficial effects on health.
An orange contains a healthy dose of vitamin C, which plays an important role in maintaining healthy blood circulation and wound healing.
The oranges also contain a series of chemical substances and antioxidants, which protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals that determine the signs of aging that help fight diseases related to advancing age.
Oranges are a good source of vitamin B, which is essential for preventing birth defects and fighting heart disease.
They contain a water-soluble fiber, called pectin, which can reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood. This explains why people who eat fruit several times a day have a lower risk of developing heart disease.
An orange provides more than 7% of the required daily amount of potassium, which is necessary for an adequate fluid balance.
Finally, due to the particular environmental conditions in which they mature, only the pigmented oranges contain anthocyanins, natural pigments with a high antioxidant power, completely absent in blondes and which give the pulp its typical and inviting red color.

Production Mode –
As far as the environmental and cultivation conditions of the orange groves destined to the production of the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI are concerned, these must be the traditional ones of the area. The fruit ripening period varies from mid-December to April, depending on the variety. In particular, the Tarocco is harvested in the period from December to April, until the second week of May; the Moro variety is instead placed in the shorter period of December-February. Finally, the Sanguinello variety is harvested from February to April. The fruits are picked by hand with the help of special scissors that cut the stalk. After harvesting, no processing of the fruit is allowed, including deverdizzazione or sverditura, a procedure that, by treatment with gas, allows the early fruits to reach the typical color for marketing.
Irrigation systems can be either for micro-irrigation or, more and more rarely, for basins and superficial flow.

Gastronomic Use –
The Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI must be kept in a cool and dry place. It is an excellent fruit if consumed fresh, peeled “alive” or by eliminating with a small knife both the white part close to the bark and the skin that separates the various segments. It can also be used in the preparation of juices, jams, salads, sauces and liqueurs. With the peel you can prepare candied fruit and sweets. The Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI in cooking is used to flavor birds, pork and white fish.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– National list of traditional food products, of the Ministry of agricultural food, forestry and tourism policies, pursuant to art. 12, paragraph 1, of the law of 12 December 2016, n. 238 and ss.mm.ii.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.




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