June 04, 2015

The Story Of Cognac, A~Z

While I am not a drinker of fine cognac, I aspire to be. This liquor has long captured my fascination, my only exposure to it was when, as a young man, I had a toothache and my mom would bring out 'the good stuff,' have me dab my pinky into it and rub it on my gum to numb the pain. It always worked, but to me with my seven year old, twinkie and chocolate milk palate, it could well have been turpentine. Now as an adult, I have come to appreciate the finer points of a good glass of cognac, sipped slowly after a nice meal or in front of a cozy fire....mm.....nice........what? Oh, right. I got a little lost there....back on point.

According to French Law, in order to be called Cognac, it must meet strict legal requirements, ensuring that the 300-year old production process remains unchanged. It must be made from at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes, although of these, Ugni Blanc, (Saint-Emilion,) is the variety most used today by some way. It must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais.

The Harvest
Believe it or not harvest is almost exactly as it is with winemakers, but that is where the similarities end. The entire Cognac vineyard covers around 216,000 acres with as many as 15,000 plantations producing white wine for the production of Cognac. The main grape variety that is planted is Ugni blanc (mostly "Folle Blanche" and "Colombard"). This slow ripening variety is very resistant to diseases and produces a wine that has two vital qualities: a high level of acidity and a generally low alcohol content. The pressing of the grapes is done immediately after harvest. Today, wine producers use horizontal flat presses or pneumatic presses. The juice is left to ferment immediately and the sugars are transformed into alcohol. The addition of sugar (chaptalisation) is not permitted. The wines are then stored with their residue. The Cognac region has a limestony soil and a maritime and temperate climate that is humid, hot and sunny enough to ripen the grapes. Despite all these assets, the wines that are produced would not deserve their reputation if it were not for the alchemy that takes place in the pot still that produces the cognac.

Cognac, The Region 
The Cognac Delimited Area extends along the banks of the Charente all the way to the Atlantic coast. It covers a large part of the department of Charente, all of the Charente-Maritime and a few areas of the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres. This ancient country was once called Aunis, Saintonge and Angoumois. In the heart of the region lies Jarnac, Segonzac and Cognac which gave its name to the spirit. Cognac lies 465 kilometers south-west of Paris and 120 kilometers north of Bordeaux. The world's best-known brandy comes from the peaceful countryside surrounding the Charente River. This slow moving river, which King François I called the 'loveliest river in his kingdom,' passes through a placid landscape of vineyards bathed by a clear and radiant light. A twenty-mile area called the 'golden circle' of cognac production encompasses Cognac and the second distilling town of Jarnac.

Cognac, the medieval town which bears the name of the region, is attractive with its narrow medieval cobbled streets and elegant Renaissance facades. It is here that the fabled nectar has been produced since the 17th century. It is said the very air one breathes is permeated by 'angels's share', the heavy scent of spirits evaporating from oak casks held in storage. World famous firms such as Camus, Hennessy, Niartell, Otard, Prince Hubert de Polignac, Rémy-Martin, Courvoisier, and Renault-Bisquit are located herewith each distillery having its own secret and unique process for mixing the various blends of its eaux-de-vie.

La Rochelle
La Rochelle is most famous for its old harbor and its three outstanding medieval towers. For the locals, that familiar, inviting sight doesn't just symbolize the port's rich history: it's also a haven of style, good times and lively quayside cafes. The vibrant lifestyle attracts an international set and there are trendy bars and excellent restaurants aplenty. The town is full of fascinating details: look out for the huge chain on the restaurant-filled Cours des Dames, under the Tour de la Chaine. It used to be slung across the mouth of the harbor, between la Tour de La Chaine and its fellow sentinel, the Tour Saint-Nicolas. Third of la Rochelle's seafront towers is la Tour de la Lnaterne, in which a huge candle was lit nightly as a beacon for incoming craft. Another impressive piece of architecture on the harbor is the porte de la Grosse Horloge. Behind this portal, the town center is easily reached, and on the bustling arcaded streets, you'll see plenty of fine architecture. With its café and clubs, this is an exuberant town at any time of the year, but it excels during the summer with an international film festival and in mid-July, the nation's top musical happening, les Francofolies, in which French-speaking musicians and music-lovers from all over the world congregate.

Located just 5 miles from Poitiers, this science amusement park is a voyage into a wonderland of new technology devoted to the moving image. With the most advanced film projection techniques, the world's largest \screens and a multitude of mind boggling activities to choose from, it is no wonder that Futuroscope draws nearly 3 million visitors annually.
Marais Poitevin
The waterways of the "Marais Poitevin" are sometimes likened to the bayous of Cajun country, for man hardly appears to have made an impact on the landscape. But unlike the bayous, this is not uninviting, alligator-rich swampland! In fact, the maze of canals is all man-made. They date from the middle ages, when monks started a huge project to drain the Golfe du Poitou (a huge bay that nearly reached Niort. The contours of its cliffs can still be traced on a map). The avenues are regularly tended by local authorities as though they were roads, which to all intents and purposes they are. The more picturesque name given to the area, "La Venise Verte" or "Green Venice" is a hint that getting around by car in the area might be easier said than done.

Set on a majestic hilltop above the river Clain, this is one of France's oldest cities, filled with history and tales of antiquity; whether it be Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionhearted or Eleanor of Aquitaine. The visitor will discover a trove of Romanesque art and architecture, museums, a 4th century Baptistery (one of the oldest Christian edifices in France) as well as the entirely renovated Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-La-Grande.
Located on the banks of the Charente river, this 2000 year old town was once the Roman capital of southwestern France. The presence of one of the oldest remaining amphitheaters as well as Roman baths, which may be visited, attests to this. Between visits to the cathedral of St-Pierre and the church of St-Eutrope, be sure to stroll through the wonderful medieval city of narrow streets and markets.
How Cognac is Made
The Pot-Still
The Pot still is entirely made of copper because copper has a catalysing effect and it does not affect the taste of the spirits. The bottom of the main cauldron - where the liquid to be distilled is placed - is in permanent contact with the bare flame of the furnace. The wine is uniformly heated with its dregs over a large surface. The Alcohols and ethers evaporate. The onion shaped top canalises the vapors into the swan neck, through the "chauffe-vin" cooling them slightly before they reach the cooling tank known as "the pipe". The vapors travel through a long coil, condense and are collected in liquid form in an oak cask.

Double distillation
Distillation is carried out in two steps : two heating cylcles called "chauffes". The first "chauffe" which lasts between 8 and 10 hours produces a cloudy liquid called "brouillis" with an alcohol content of 24 to 30 % volume. The "brouillis" is then re distilled. This second heating is called "la bonne chauffe" and lasts about 12 hours. This time, only the best, that is "the heart" of the distillation, is kept. The distiller separates the "heart" from the "heads" and the "tails" through a process called "cutting". The heads and the tails are mixed with the next batch of wine or brouillis in order to be re distilled. Thus only the heart, a clear spirit averaging between 68 and 72% vol., is kept for ageing to become Cognac.

The distilled wine must age before becoming Cognac. This aging takes place in 270 to 450 litre oak casks. The natural level of humidity in the cellars is one of the main influencing factors on the ageing of the spirits due to its effect on evaporation. The charentais coopers have traditionally used wood from the Limousin and the Tronçais forests. The Tronçais forest, in the Allier department of France, provides soft, finely grained wood which is particularly porous to alcohol. The Limousin forest produces medium grained wood, harder and even more porous. The wood used in the Cognac barrels must come from the nearby forests. None may be brought in from outside the region. Some producers prefer to use Troncais oak, because it imparts flavors more quickly to the Cognac. The downside of this is again, in the quality of the finished product. The producers of our Single Vineyard Cognacs rely exclusively on Limousine oak. This wood imparts flavor to the oak more slowly, and the result is transcendentally wonderful Cognacs. A Cognac’s age is determined solely by the number of years that it has matured in wood. The fundamental principle behind this fact is that in a glass bottle Cognac stops aging. A Cognac that has come straight from the pot still has an alcohol content of about 70%. As it ages, Cognac concentrates the aromas and the colors as it darkens to a warm shade of amber. During the first few years (from 0 to 5 years), the bouque mellows and becomes less agressivea nd the spirit turns to a shade of yellow that continues to darken. The odor of oakwood develops. Next, the taste becomes more pleasant and smoother. The oakwood fragrance introduces scents of flowers and vanilla. Beyond 10 years of age, Cognac reaches maturity and has a much darker color. The bouquet is at its best and the famous "rancio" appear.

From beginning to end, the making of cognac (or ’elaboration’) is the subject of a complex alchemy. The quality of each and every cognac depends as much on the "assemblies" as on the care given to the vine, the grape harvest, the wine making, the distillation and the aging in casks. The cognac that you drink is in fact the fruit of "assemblies" of different vintages and different ages. It is these assemblies that produce the harmony in the taste.

The "assemblies" are the result of unwritten ancestral know-how. They are the secret of the "maîtres de chai" or "cellar masters", persons of exception who watch over the cognac from its exit from the still to the bottling. It is the cellar masters who, after years of patient training by the elders, decide to decant casks or to change cellars in order to best develop the quality of the spirit. They also decide when and how to assemble the spirits. It is often said of the cellar masters that they alone represent the true value of Cognac houses. The assembly is done in several steps that are spread throughout the entire ageing process. The cellar masters do not use any instruments of measure, they rely entirely on their judgement of taste and smell. Their senses are so accurate that they are always right.
Grades of Cognac
VS Very Special, or (three stars) where the youngest brandy is stored at least two years in cask.
VSOP Very Special (less commonly, but officially according to the BNIC, 'Superior') Old Pale, where the youngest brandy is stored at least four years in cask, but the average wood age is much older.
XO Extra Old, where the youngest brandy is stored at least six, but average upwards of 20 years.
Napoleon Although the BNIC states this grade is equal to XO in terms of minimum age, it is generally marketed in-between VSOP and XO in the product range offered by the producers. Of note: According to the legend handed down, though most of this is hearsay; Cognac was Napoleon’s favorite beverage. Years ago, Cognac was a white, or clear, spirit. It was harsh and difficult to drink, yet Napoleon loved it. As he was leaving to conquer Russia, he realized that he could not carry with him his entire store of Cognac. He left the extra with trusted friends, admonishing them strictly not to disturb the barrels he was leaving in their cellars for any reason. When he returned six and a half years later to reclaim his barrels of Cognac, Napoleon found them as he had left them, undisturbed and safe. Yet the Cognac within was radically different from the cognac he had left there those many years ago. Over the intervening six and a half years, the Cognac had aged in the barrels. Napoleon’s Cognac had taken on the characteristics of the barrels. It had mellowed, and yet grown flavorful and more powerful, acquiring some of the color and flavor of the wood. Napoleon proclaimed it to be the finest beverage in all the world.
Extra A minimum of 6 years of age, this grade is usually older than a Napoleon or an XO.
Vieux is another grade between the official grades of VSOP and XO.
Vieille Réserve is like the Hors d´Age a grade beyond XO.
Hors d'âge The BNIC states that also this grade is equal to XO, but in practice the term is used by producers to market a high quality product beyond the official age scale. Hence the name "Hors d'age" (beyond age).

From a recent Article in Nations Restaurant News by Stephen Beaumont, Ben Demarchelier, bar manager of Brasserie Cognac in midtown Manhattan is quoted as saying, “I like introducing people to Cognac through cocktails, some originals, some classics and some variations on the classics,” Demarchelier said. “It helps younger people in particular look at Cognac as a smooth, fun drink, rather than your grandfather’s Cognac.” “If I start them out with something younger, on a subsequent visit they may ask me to recommend something different,” he said. “That’s when I’ll move them up to something older and more complex.” He also dismisses the notion of the old fashioned snifter, saying, "The Cognac tulip glass is what I use for most of my Cognacs, because it better presents the spirit, intensifying the aroma by allowing it to breathe and expand, all the way to the finish,” he said. “In the snifter, I find the Cognac will snuff itself out, reducing its aroma to little more than pure alcohol, while the tulip keeps it fresh to the very end.”
The eye must judge the spirit in three ways: transparency, color and viscosity (the liquid must not be cloudy nor have sediments). By tilting the glass, one can observe the "legs" or "tears" effect which is a sign of good age.
Firstly, the connoisseur will detect the very volatile and very subtle scents that are often hidden to the novice: Carry the glass to within an inch of the nostrils then smell a little closer before with the nose in the glass, inhaling at length all the released smells. Secondly stir and toss the liquid inside the glass to allow the spirit to release new scents. Repeats this action several times to make the pleasure last and to discover a whole new bouquet every time.

The tasting must obey strict rules: The taster takes small sips at a time (1 to 2 ml). Hold each sip in the front of the mouth and appreciate the "taste" (balance between softness, acidity and bitterness) and the "touch" (feeling of roundness, warmth, strength, astringency, body, oiliness, volume, etc...). The second, longer sip will suffuse the whole mouth and will bring into full bloom the flavors and the less volatile notes that complete the bouquet.

As always drink in moderation and good luck on your journey.

Bon Appetit,


June 02, 2015

Oranges....Vitamin C to go, whether in your pocket, purse or Porsche.

I love oranges...the smell, the taste, the packaging. For those that question Nature's marketing prowess,' I'd suggest thinking again. Perfectly healthy, nice color, great taste and completely portable. Vitamin C to go if you will. What more could you ask for? It comes in a little self enclosed carrying case that you can take anywhere, whether in your pocket, purse or Porsche. When recently introduced to a variety I had never heard of before, Calamondin, I was forced to ask myself, "What do I really know about oranges?" I know, I know, only a 'foodie' would even entertain such a thought, let alone act on it, but that's why you count on me... to ask the important questions!

Let's take a look at the orange in all its juicy goodness...

Origins of the orange... (like the wordplay there?)
It is still not universally agreed to be a distinct species, C. sinensis Osbeck, but it is usually treated as though it were. One of its first recorded regional names was the Persian narang, from which were derived the Spanish name, naranja, and the Portuguese, laranja. In some Caribbean and Latin American areas, the fruit is called naranja de China, China dulce, or simply China (pronounced cheena).

Most would be surprised that the orange we know today is not a natural, wild species, at least I know I was. It is assumed to have come from southern China, northeastern India, and perhaps southeastern Asia (formerly Indochina). In my research, I discovered that there is no one answer to, "Where do oranges come from?" Italians, ever the usurpers and perfectors of all things 'orient' are supposed to have brought it back to the Mediterranean after 1450, but history tells us it could also have been the Portuguese navigators around 1500. At that time period of history, all citrus fruits were valued by Europeans mainly for medicinal purposes, but the orange was quickly adopted as a luscious fruit and wealthy persons grew it in private conservatories, called orangeries. By 1646 it had been much publicized and was well known.
It's a common belief that the Spaniards most probably were responsible for the introduction of the sweet orange into South America and Mexico in the mid 1500s, and the French brought it to Louisiana. It was from New Orleans that seeds were obtained and distributed in Florida about 1872 and many orange groves were established by grafting the sweet orange onto sour orange root-stocks. Arizona received the orange tree with the founding of missions between 1707 and 1710. The orange was brought to San Diego, California, by those who built the first mission there in 1769. An orchard was planted at the San Gabriel Mission around 1804 and a commercial orchard was established in 1841 on a site that is now a part of Los Angeles. In 1781, a surgeon and naturalist on the ship Discovery, collected orange seeds in South Africa, grew seedlings on board and presented them to tribal chiefs in the Hawaiian Islands on arrival in 1792.

How popular are oranges? Well, the fact that the orange has become the most commonly grown fruit tree in the world might be some indication. It is an important crop in the Far East, the Union of South Africa, Australia, throughout the Mediterranean area, and subtropical areas of South America and the Caribbean. The United States leads in world production, with Florida, alone, having an annual yield of more than 200 million boxes. California, Texas and Arizona follow in that order, with much lower production in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Orange Varieties

The Washington Navel
(Formerly known as Bahia) originated, perhaps as a mutant in Bahia, Brazil, before 1820. It was introduced into Florida in 1835 and several other times prior to 1870. In 1873, budded trees reached California where the fruit matures at the Christmas season. Ease of peeling and separation of segments makes this the most popular orange in the world.

A non-navel seedling raised in 1914-1915 at the Citrus Experiment Station in California and released in 1935, is milder in flavor and has fewer seeds, but may be earlier in season, and it has been considered promising in hot, dry regions unsuitable for the Washington Navel. There are several other named variations such as Robertson Navel, Summer Navel, Texas Navel, and the externally attractive Thompson Navel which was grown in California for a time but dropped because of its poor quality.

Valencia or Valencia Late
This orange is the most important cultivar in California, Texas and South Africa. It has been the leader in Florida until recently. In 1984, 40% of the oranges being planted in Florida were Valencia, 60% were Hamlin. The Valencia may have originated in China and it was presumably taken to Europe by Portuguese or Spanish voyagers. The well-known English nurseryman, Thomas Rivers, supplied plants from the Azores to Florida in 1870 and to California in 1876.

Lue Gim Gong
This variety was claimed to be a hybrid of Valencia and Mediterranean Sweet made by a Chinese grower in 1886. Lue Gim Gong was awarded the Wilder Silver Medal by the American Pomological Society in 1911 but, later on, his hybrid was judged to be a nucellar seedling of Valencia. Propagated and distributed by Glen St. Mary Nurseries in 1912, this cultivar closely resembles Valencia, matures and is marketed with its parent without distinction. It is best cited as the Lue Gim Gong Strain of Valencia. Mediterranean Sweet was introduced into Florida from Europe in 1875, was briefly popular, but is no longer grown.

Note**Certain strains of Valencia are classed as summer oranges because the fruits can be left on the trees longer without dehydrating. One is known as Pope, Pope Summer, or Glen Summer. It was found in a grove of Pineapple oranges near Lakeland about 1916, was propagated in 1935, and trademarked in 1938. On sour orange or sweet orange root stocks in hammock soils, the fruit matures in April but is still in good condition on the tree in July and August.

Rhode Red Valencia
This orange variety was discovered in 1955 in a grove near Sebring, Florida, by Paul Rhode, Sr., of Winter Haven. Some budwood was put on sour orange stock which caused dwarfing and some on rough lemon which produced large, vigorous, productive trees. In 1974, five trees were accepted into the Citrus Budwood Registration Program but there was no budwood free of exocortis and xyloporosis viruses. The fruit equals Valencia insoluble solids, excels Valencia in volume of juice, is less acid, has slightly less ascorbic acid, but has a far more colorful juice due to its high content of cryptoxanthin, a precursor of vitamin A which remains nearly stable during processing.

Discovered in 1879 near Glenwood, Florida, in a grove later owned by A.G. Hamlin, is small, smooth, not highly colored, seedless and juicy but the juice is pale. The fruit is of poor-to-medium quality but the tree is high-yielding and cold-tolerant. The fruit is harvested from October to December and this cultivar is now the leading early orange in Florida. On pine-land and hammock soil it is budded on sour orange which gives a high solids content. On sand, it does best on rough lemon rootstock.

A selected Florida seedling named in 1877, is of rich orange color, of medium size, and excellent flavor, It was formerly one of the most valued midseason oranges in Florida but was too seedy to maintain that position. It is no longer planted except perhaps in Texas and Louisiana.

(Jaffa, Khalili, Khalili White) originated as a limb sport on a Beledi tree near Jaffa, Israel, in 1844; introduced into Florida about 1883; oval, medium-large; peel entirely orange when ripe; leathery, thick, easy to remove; pulp very juicy, of good quality. It constitutes 75% of the Lebanese and Israeli crops and is one of the 2 main cultivars in Syria, but it is no longer planted in the United States.

Parson Brown
This variety was discovered in a grove owned by Parson Brown in Wester, Florida and was purchased, propagated and distributed by J.L. Carney between 1870 and 1878. It is rough-skinned, with pale juice; moderately seedy; of low-to-medium quality. It was formerly popular in Florida because of its earliness and long season (October through December), but has been largely replaced by Hamlin. It is grown in Texas, Arizona and Louisiana but is not profitable in California where it matures at the same time as Washington Navel. It does not develop acceptable quality in the tropics.

A seedling found in a grove near Citra, Florida, it was propagated in 1876 or 1877 under the name of Hickory. It is pineapple-scented, smooth, highly colored, especially after cold spells; of rich, appealing flavor, and medium-seedy. It is the favorite midseason orange in Florida, its tendency to preharvest drop having been overcome by nutrition and spray programs. It is grown to some extent in Texas, rarely in California; succeeds on sour orange rootstock in low hammock land, on rough lemon in light sand. Seedless mutants of Pineapple have been produced by seed irradiation. This cultivar does fairly well in tropical climates though not as well as Valencia.

This is a seedling of unknown origin which was found in a grove near Bartow, Florida. Because it survived the freeze of 1894-95, it was propagated in 1900 under the name King which was later changed to Queen. It is much like Pineapple, has fewer seeds, higher soluble solids, persists on the tree better in dry spells; is high-yielding and somewhat more cold-tolerant than Pineapple.

Blood Oranges
These are commonly cultivated in the Mediterranean area, especially in Italy (Sicilian Blood Oranges are prized the world over), and also in Pakistan. They are grown very little in Florida where the red coloration rarely develops except during periods of cold weather. In California they are grown only as novelties. Among the well-known cultivars in this group are Egyptian, which tends to develop a small navel; Maltese, Ruby, and St. Michael.

Orange products
The orange, its oils and properties have long been cultivated into numerous products that we use in our everyday households. The following is a brief list of some.

Orange juice
Orange juice is one of the commodities traded on the New York Board of Trade. Brazil is the largest producer of orange juice in the world, followed by the United States. It is made by squeezing the fruit on a special instrument called a "juicer" or a "squeezer."

Orange oil
Essential oil is a by-product of the juice industry produced by pressing the peel. It is used as a flavoring of food and drink and for its fragrance in perfume and aromatherapy. Orange oil consists of about 90 percent d-Limonene, a solvent used in various household chemicals, such as to condition wooden furniture, and along with other citrus oils in grease removal and as a hand-cleansing agent. It is an efficient cleaning agent, which is environmentally friendly, and much less toxic than petroleum distillates. It also smells more pleasant than other cleaning agents.

Orange blossoms
The orange blossom is traditionally associated with good fortune, and was popular in bridal bouquets and head wreaths for weddings for some time. The petals of orange blossom can also be made into a delicately citrus-scented version of rosewater. Orange blossom water is a common part of Middle Eastern cuisine. The orange blossom gives its touristic nickname to the Costa del Azahar ("Orange-blossom coast"), the Valencia seaboard.

In Spain, fallen blossoms are dried and then used to make tea.

Orange blossom honey
Orange blossom honey, or actually citrus honey, is produced by putting beehives in the citrus groves during bloom; where the bee ollinates seeded citrus varieties. Orange blossom honey is highly prized, and tastes much like an orange.

Marmalade is a conserve usually made with bitter or sour oranges, which are too sour and astringent to eat raw. All parts of the orange are used to make marmalade: the pith and pips are separated, and typically placed in a muslin bag where they are boiled in the juice (and sliced peel) to extract their pectin, aiding the setting process.

Orange peel
Orange peel is used by gardeners as a slug repellent.

The unripe fruit called narthangai is commonly used in Southern Indian food, especially in Tamil cuisine. The unripe fruit is pickled by cutting it into spirals and stuffing it with salt. The pickle is usually consumed with thayir sadam (curd rice).

The whole package....
Such is the versatility of the orange, that virtually every part of this friut from seedlings, to flowers and blossoms to the bark of the tree is utilized in some way or another.

In addition to its food uses, orange peel oil is a prized scent in perfume and soaps. Because of its 90-95% limonene content, it has a lethal effect on houseflies, fleas and fireants. Its potential as an insecticide is under investigation. It is being used in engine cleaners and in waterless hand-cleaners in heavy machinery repair shops. It is commercially produced mainly in California and Florida, followed distantly by Italy, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Brazil and Greece, in that order. Terpenes extracted from the outer layer of the peel are important in resins and in formulating paints for ships. Australians have reported that a shipment of platypuses sent to the United States in the 1950s was fed mass-produced worms raised on orange peel.

Oil derived from orange and other citrus seeds is employed as a cooking oil and in soap and plastics. The high-protein seed residue is suitable for human food and an ingredient in cattlefeed, and the hulls enter into fertilizer mixtures.

Flowers and foliage
The essential oils distilled from orange flowers and foliage are important in perfume manufacturing. Some Petitgrain oil is distilled from the leaves, flowers, twigs, and small, whole, unripe fruits.

The nectar flow is more abundant than that from any other source in the United States and is actually a nuisance to grove workers in California, more moderate in Florida. It is eagerly sought by honeybees and the delicious, light-colored honey is widely favored, though it darkens and granulates within a few months. Citrus honey constitutes 25% of all honey produced in California each year. There are efforts to time pest-control spraying to avoid adverse effects on honeybees during the period of nectar-gathering.

The wood is yellowish, close-grained and hard but prone to attack by drywood termites. It has been valued for furniture, cabinetwork, turnery and engraver's blocks. Branches are fashioned into walking-sticks. Orange wood is the source of orange sticks used by manicurists to push back the cuticle.

Medicinal Uses
Oranges are eaten to allay fever and catarrh. The roasted pulp is prepared as a poultice for skin diseases. The fresh peel is rubbed on acne. In the mid-1950s, the health benefits of eating peeled, whole oranges was much publicized because of its protopectin, bioflavonoids and inositol (related to vitamin B). The orange contains a significant amount of the vitamin-like glucoside, hesperidin, 75-80% of it in the albedo, rag and pulp. This principle, also rutin, and other bioflavonoids were for a while much advocated for treating capillary fragility, hemorrhages and other physiological problems, but they are no longer approved for such use in the United States.

Orange flower water, made in Italy and France as a cologne, is bitter and considered antispasmodic and sedative. A decoction of the dried leaves and flowers is given in Italy as an antispasmodic, cardiac sedative, antiemetic, digestive and remedy for flatulence. The inner bark, macerated and infused in wine, is taken as a tonic and carminative. A vinous decoction of husked orange seeds is prescribed for urinary ailments in China and the juice of fresh orange leaves or a decoction of the dried leaves may be taken as a carminative or emmenagogue or applied on sores and ulcers. An orange seed extract is given as a treatment for malaria in Ecuador but it is known to cause respiratory depression and a strong contraction of the spleen.

Well there you have it. Most of us simply go to the market, pick the items we want, take them home and enjoy our little delights without ever giving a second thought as to the origin of what it is we put in our bodies. We like the taste, the look, or the feeling it gives us. (That last part is really about my addiction to chocolate, but we'll leave that discussion for another feature and another day). I hope you learned a bit. I know I did.

Bon Appetit!


Sources: www.hort.purdue.edu, www.orange.com, www.ikipedia.org, www.budgetermite.com, www.static.howstuffworks.com www.affordablehomeandgardenstore.com, www.naturehills.com, www.ridgeislandgroves.com, www.justfoodnow.com, www.aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu,, www.cookinglight.com, www.mydish.co.uk., www.dpi.nsw.gov.au, www.aromatherapywellness.com