O is for Oranges

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It’s orange season time again! There is nothing nicer than a freshly picked orange almost straight from the tree and for me, even juicing them seems a small crime compared with the joy of peeling and eating one fresh!

So it seemed an obvious choice to cover Oranges in our A to Z of Portugal


My A to Z of Portugal

The Algarve produces between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes of citrus fruits each year, and it is hardly surprising that the oranges grown here account for about 70% of the total oranges grown in Portugal – long days of hot sunshine, adequate water supplies and good soil ensure fine crops.

There is a real mixture to be found between large professional cooperatives and small farms – and even the smallest patch of land or garden often has a few orange trees tucked in the corner.

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We had the pleasure of meeting the delightful and charming Manuel Medeira Rodrigues before Christmas, who is one of the older generation farmers running the MrFrutas company  – one of the most recognised fruit farms in the Silves area – I am tempted to book on one of their 2 hour tours which sounds fascinating – and you get to pick your own fruit too!

The landscape is dotted with orange groves laden with fruit at the moment – often stretching as far as the eye can see, and providing an irresistible fragrance of orange as you approach them, this was a farm near Paderne recently:

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One of the other common sights you can see now are fruit sellers and their stalls which dot the N125 – in some stretches of the road every few yards you will see a sign and a stall offering you 5kg for 2 Euros – or even cheaper!

We prefer to visit our friend in Odelouca, a dear old farmer and his wife who are so proud of their fruit, and weigh it out for you into a carrier bag on the most amazing old-fashioned brass scales.

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The ‘tradition’ appears to be as follows – weigh the fruit meticulously; then throw a load more into the bag for free; then hand you an orange each to eat there and then to check that they are all ok!

The fruit arrives on a fantastic old tractor driven by the farmer – health and safety? pah!

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If you are lucky you can even see orange trees along the side of the road – this street in Paderne intrigued me – I have no idea who these oranges would belong to – or whether you can just help yourself as you walk along?!

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the Three Oranges – a fairytale

Oranges are even the substance of local folklore and fairytales too – I have been enchanted by an old book detailing Portuguese folk tales – as with many fairy stories and folklore, the themes often recur across many countries with slight deviations and one that charmed me was the tale of the three oranges – there are many different versions of this but here’s the basic gist of the story:

The handsome prince sets out in search of a beautiful princess to marry – he is given three oranges but told not to peel them unless he is near a source of water.

Impatient to find out the contents, he peels the first one – a beautiful maiden emerges, but as there is no water nearby, she dies in his arms.

You think he’d have learnt after this – but no, he peels the second one – maiden emerges – no water – maiden dies!

The third time he finally gets it (!) and peels the orange near to a waterfall – he gives the maiden a drink and she swoons in his arms but lives. She is too weak to travel back to the palace, so he leaves her sat in a tree (*I didn’t write this!) and goes back to get help.

Cue the evil nasty witch woman who is obviously jealous of the maiden’s beauty and the prince’s interest – she sticks a pin into the maiden’s head (!) and the maiden is transformed into a bird and flies off.

The Prince returns, finds the evil ugly witch woman – and for some reason known only to him then takes her back to the palace instead of the beautiful maiden (!)

The bird then appears and refuses to leave the palace grounds – eventually the prince finds the pin in the bird’s head (*as I have already said – I didn’t write this!!) and pulls the pin out – the beautiful maiden is restored to life, he marries her, kills the evil ugly witch, and lives happily ever after of course!

For the full version I can recommend this website SurlaluneFairytales

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So next time you are eating an orange – keep an eye out for a bird hovering around you – and make sure that you are near a fountain of water!

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32 Responses to O is for Oranges

  1. Pingback: O is for Oranges – Algarve Blog « My A to Z Blogging Challenge

  2. utesmile says:

    It is lovely to see the oranges on the trees or bushes, as we just see them in nets in the supermarket. I bet it is great just to pick one and eat it straight from the tree.

  3. Fernanda says:

    Regarding the orange trees along the side of the roads (quite common also in Alentejo) try to pick one, usually you’ll discover how bitter an orange can be… They usually belong to the municipality and are “decorative”.

  4. Marianne says:

    Love it!

    I adore being able to pop outside and pluck oranges straight from our trees, for breakfast.

    I always try to buy fruit and veg from these little stalls where they weigh it and then toss in loads more. They are always generous with their samples, aren’t they?

  5. Valentina says:

    I have grown a huge orange three outside my home office. So beautiful to see when is full of fruit, it looks like a Christmas tree decorated with orange balls and when it blooms, of course, the orange blossoms are so perfumed.

  6. I am a storyteller, and was thrilled to hear a story I have never heard before. Loved the photos and the personal stories too.

  7. elizz says:

    i love this post and the story.. such a delight to see photos of oranges and i could almost smell the citrus flavor..so refreshing.

  8. Sami Veloso says:

    I also have a lemon and a clementine tree in my garden. It is so lovely to see the streets lined with fruit trees. I also remember seeing orange trees lining streets in Seville – with the famous bitter Seville oranges.

    • ferragudofan says:

      Portugal doesn’t seem to like the bitter oranges do they – which means that ‘marmalade’ as we know it is unheard of … or so I thought until I discovered Lidls do an amazing ‘orange jam’ – which to a Brit is proper marmalade …. PT ‘marmalade’ is like a sweet apricot conserve in a margarine shaped tub!!!

  9. Gallivanta says:

    An orange or two with a story thrown in; what could make my day sweeter? :)

  10. Wonderful story! I love that oranges are so cheap and plentiful here. We have freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast throughout the peak season, mainly from excess oranges that a colleague brings to work as freebies for the rest of us.

  11. I love fresh oranges and eat them often! Our extremely cold temperatures right now, so unexpected, have threatened the crop. Farmers are scrambling to counteract against the freeze! I always feel bad for the farmers and the many who will be unemployed if the crop is low! Didn’t mean to be dreary. Ha! Your photos and story are just wonderful, warm and sunny! Lovely! :-)

    • ferragudofan says:

      you are right though – the reality for a farmer is very harsh – I think that last year the drought like winter meant that the fruit yield was too small for sale – and caused its own problems

  12. Ohhh my partner’s parents live in Silves, and the first time we drove to visit them I desperately wanted to stop and buy some oranges from the side of the road. He just laughed at me… then I realised why, as his parents have an orchard full of orange trees! One of their neighbours even distills special orange wine for them. Mmmm yum! Great post, btw!

  13. oasien says:

    Dans les oranges, il y a le soleil.

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