The Orange, not only in Mallorca, a fruit with a long history of million years old from its origins in Southeast Asia, through Greek mythology and its spread from East to West. The first citrus varieties had little in common with the sweet orange we have today in Mallorca but let´s see some small history about it.
The mythology already speaks of the Tree of Golden Apples which reportedly concerned oranges, considered as a valuable fruit. So valuable was considered this fruit that Gea gave Juno the Garden of the Hesperides as a wedding gift. This garden was located on Mount Atlas, which was full of orange trees.
For thousands of years, in southern China was carried out the cultivation of oranges and subsequently spread throughout Southeast Asia. The Silk Road was the cause of the spread of orange throughout East. The Arabs were who through South Spain introduced the orange throughout Europe. As many crops Citrus history is closely linked to major historical events and its importance is reflected by historians and writers of the time.
The sour citrus is the first that knew Europeans (Citrus Medica Linn) in 310 BC when was introduced in Greece at that time, by the armies of Alexander the Great that found the citron in Media, botanists called Apple Tree of Media, but it was from Italy that the cultivation of citrus spreads south of France and Spain, knowing by the name of Arbor Medica.
The successful cultivation of citrus lies in the varied uses that had in this time as an antidote, to preserve the clothes moth and as fresh food. Bitter orange and lemon follow chronologically the citron in its appearance in Europe but coming about twelve centuries later.
The origin of the bitter orange tree seems to be from the eastern regions of India, the word “orange” comes from the Arabic “naranch” and this from the Persian “narang”. In 922 AD, the Arabs found the bitter orange tree in India and planted in Arabia, from where it goes to Basra, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, introduced in the eleventh century in North Africa, Sicily, Sardinia and Spain and in 1000-1200 AD Arabs brought the lemon in Europe, following the same path as bitter orange tree.
It is not sure which is the homeland of sweet orange, believed to be southern China, Cochin China, Burma and parts of India in the south of the Himalayas. It is known that the sweet orange has been cultivated in China for centuries, reaching the crop in that country a great development and perfection before it was known in Europe. The earliest known reference is in a book titled Kung Yu, dedicated to Emperor Ta Yu.
The Mandarin, originating in China and Cochin China, spread widely in China and Japan, countries where it is known since ancient times. There are many references in both Chinese and Japanese literature and it seems that the Mandarin was introduced in Japan while the bitter orange and lemon trees were introduced into Europe. The path followed by the sweet orange to enter Europe is a mystery. In the early sixteenth century there are references that the sweet orange is already set in Mallorca and has attained commercial importance in Soller area, but there are no references found between the tenth and fifteenth centuries.
Once introduced into Spain different species of citrus citron, lemon, bitter orange and lime tree, these are used as ornamental trees by the Arabs, planting in streets, gardens and courtyards of mosques. Was in Andalucia where the cultivation of citrus fruits reached its greatest intensity, thence extending Murcia and Valencia.
In the second half of the twelfth century Abuzacara Abenalawan, Seville Arabic, write Quitab el Fellaha (The Book of Agriculture), in which there is extensive information about the cultivation of orange tree, lemon, citrus and other citrus referring to them as well-known plants. In another work by the same author, entitled Rural Andalucia Calendar says all the steps to be performed in each month and in the different crops, including the orange tree and in 1248 Malaga Arab Abenalbitar wrote several works on botany and medicine in which also deals with the lemon and orange, from the point of view of agriculture and health. From these quotations we can deduce that in the early sixteenth century, the sweet orange was not only well known in Spain, but was under cultivation and commercial exploitation, although this operation was probably limited in nature and in limited regions.
The spread of sweet orange in the New World is provided by the Portuguese and Spanish. According to Fray Bartolome de las Casas, Columbus on his second voyage to America led, among other things, seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons which had to be planted on the settlements of La Española and La Isabela.
The first major reference on sweet orange is given by Castellón pharmacist Jose Jimenez, who, in his treatise about plants on unprecedented levels, which concluded in 1789, describes a variety of sour orange, three varieties sweet, two of lemon and citron giving known the medicinal properties of its fruit and other uses, but says nothing about the commercial importance of these crops.
Undoubtedly one of the great works of Spanish agriculture is History Natura, Geography, Agriculture, Population and Fruits of the Kingdoms of Spain when in 1791 Antonio José de Cavanilles is appointed by the king to scroll Spain and examine plants that grow in it. In this work are described extensively wealth of Spanish orange groves, giving a state of the population, fruit orchard, expenses and products of the orange crop.
In 1788 the first known official documents relating to the export of orange in Spain appear, are the regulations issued by the authorities of Soller (Mallorca) to regulate the sale and shipment of oranges bound for the ports of southern France.
In 1850 exports to the UK first delivery was constituted by boxes of oranges consigned to House Dan Rogers of Liverpool starts. In 1867 the Xebec fleet of Soller transported 210 shipments of orange, with a weight of 7350 tons and a value of 875,000 pesetas gold. Once foreign trade with Britain and France set, new markets are opening, revaluing orange and encouraging the creation of new orchards. The orange of Soller and its mysterious valley once attracted people from very different places. Its history has always been linked to its orange, history in turn marked for centuries by a very special enclave.
Sweet orange cultivation in Soller Mallorca gives faith chronic late sixteenth century and so these orange avatars of Soller has remained linked to the fate of its people becoming the citrus pioneers in the Balearic and the first in the export of orange as today is known in different countries in Europe.
If it is totally impossible to explain the history of the Valley of Soller without its orange, neither is without its port, the Port of Soller. It was they, oranges and that irresistible urge to make them known to the world and to export that causes the start of its construction in 1772 and achieved a huge commercial importance as the only natural refuge of the north coast of Mallorca and its outside channel communication to facilitate the mountains avoid insulated from the rest of the island. In the third decade of the nineteenth century when France and England surrendered the taste of Mallorcan oranges, was the splendor of that crop, orange groves of Soller lived their sweetest moments.
It was in early SXX when Soller lived a great splendor in their orange trees flourished again after some difficult times, King Alfonso XIII in 1905 granted Soller the title of “city” and in April 1912, the train Palma-Soller was inaugurated, a crucial fact for the valley of Soller, ending its geographic and natural isolation with the rest of the Island. Train was necessary to transfer the goods arriving by boat from Port de Soller to Palma, and of course people and in 1913 the tram which connects Soller to Port Soller opened.
Soller is the valley of orange trees, thousands of tourists flock to the call of that color and flavor to behold that beauty with their own eyes and buy and enjoy the excellent Mallorcan orange. Although there are many varieties of orange and plenty of orange trees throughout the island of Mallorca, by tradition and importance, is the Orange from Soller that in this article we recommend to buy and enjoy and, of course, visit Soller and its orange valley and they will seduce you?sure.
The season of one of the best products in the island begins in November stretching until the end of July and there are different varieties for different seasons.
The Navelina is the early variety. Its harvest begins in early November and lasts until early January. Characterized by an strong acidity and medium sugar content. Juicy and easy to peel is ideal for simple eating. The Navel variety is harvested in mid-January and lasts until mid-February. It is the sweetest sister of Navelina variety. Bitter Oranges, mid-January to mid-March are ideal for making orange marmalade or to give a subtle touch to dishes and desserts. The Canoneta is collected in early February and harvest runs until May. It’s a real “bomb juice” with about 50 % of juice capacity. Sweet taste with a mild hint of acidity at the beginning of the harvest and most sweet as grape sugar at the end is perfect for orange juice lovers. The Navelate harvested later, from mid-February to about the end of April and is ideal for simple eating for its sweet taste. The Ortanique is sweet with a pinpoint acidity and fine skin being also ideal for eating. The Valencia Late is another delicious orange for eating or juicing. Its crop covers the months of May and July. The Peret, pear-shaped, greenish with yellow appearance is delicious to eat but it is even better to make a good juice in summer.
More Mallorcan Orange Photos in our Flickr Channel.
We hope that the article has been interesting for you and during your next stay in Mallorca you will look and try one of the best oranges in the world, the Orange from Mallorca.