9 Feb 2009

Bitter oranges!

When I was in the grocery store today I spotted a big pile of bitter oranges!

I was rather thrilled (yes, thrilled by citrus! Imagine what the rest of my day was like...) because I don't think I've ever seen fresh bitter oranges in the stores here in Sweden before, only dried pieces intended for baking and such. But that may just have been me not paying enough attention.

Anyway, why I got so excited about these little fruits is because bitter orange is the key ingredient if you're going to make bischoff:

Recipe from Museum of Wine And Spirits in Stockholm, adapted from a 1755 recipe:

  • 5 fresh bitter oranges
  • 1 bottle of French red wine
  • 3 deciliters of sugar

Peel the oranges and heat them in a saucepan until they are well done but not burned.

Put them in a punch bowl together with the sugar and squeeze the juice out with a spoon.

Put the wine in, stir well, and let it soak for two hours with a plate covering the bowl.

If you use champagne, you get "Cardinal" and with white wine from the Rhine district you get "Archbishop"!

It's very tasty and great for parties, but I don't know if the kind I've had was made from bitter oranges, or lemons or ordinary oranges.

Back in the good old days of the 18th century, it wasn't uncommon to own potted trees which supplied with fresh bitter oranges at low cost! Swedish Märta Helena Reenstierna, whose claim-to-fame is the unique diary which she kept between the years 1793-1839, owned several trees which gave plenty of fruit for all her boozing-it-up needs (I was playing with the thought of planting a seed from a fruit myself, but I soon learned that it will take 10-15 years before the first harvest. The idea of a plant surviving with me for 15 years? Lulzy.)

Anyway, all you kitched goddesses (and gods) - do you think it would be possible to store bitter oranges in the freezer for some months, since I fear that the supply won't last long here (which reminds me that I already have 2 litres of blackthorn berries in the freezer waiting for further investigation... Oh well!). I suppose they would become all mushy but since they'd be squeezed to death in the punch bowl anyway, maybe it wouldn't matter too much?


  1. I think you'd be better off to make the 'fruit' section of the juice, complete with cooking, sugar, and setting out, then freeze that. Later, unthaw and let sit with the wine.

    Although I've never tried freezing oranges to be honest. It might work!

  2. That sounds much yummier than most of the 18th C. punch recipes I've heard of. Is it still commonly served in Sweden?