by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
Oranges have been a tropical delight for ages whether they’re eaten by itself, squeezed for the juices, or implanted in a recipe or cocktail.
Beginning in China, the first fruit tree bloomed but oranges have been found to date back 8 million years in the foothills of the Himalaya. The oranges were at first sour since they were crossed between a mandarin and a pomelo, so it was used widely by herbalists to make a medicinal syrup.
It’s likely that Persian traders brought oranges from India to Sri Lanka to the Roman Empire in 100 BCE. The Romans then spread orange growing practices across Mediterranean lands in North Africa.
After Rome declined, the rising Islamic rulers closed trade in the Mediterranean but later established trade with Middle East Countries.
Spain and Moracco later began to improve orange varieties by using the seeds of the Persian orange in the 11th century.
By the 1500s, Spanish colonists spread oranges to the New World, or now called the Americas. Ponce de Leon is believed to have brought the orange to none other than Florida and by 1579, St. Augustine had its first citrus trees.
Jumping to today, over 75 million tons of oranges are produced around the world and are the most cultivated fruit tree. Not only are they delicious but are also super healthy.
Oranges are an excellent source of various bioactive plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that include flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the most well-known antioxidants that have been linked to lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
They promote heart health, prevent anemia, support immune health, slows macular degeneration, lowers blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. The fiber that’s in oranges also helps keep blood sugar in check and surprisingly, has 6% of your daily calcium requirement.
Oranges are amazing in recipes and give food that awesome boost of flavor. A splash of juice in icing, pastries, breads, cookies, soups, or cocktails can change it drastically and adding it to roasted poultry is divine. However, what I wanted to spotlight is the loved and hated Ambrosia Salad.
In Greek Mythology, ambrosia was considered food of the gods because it was so delicious that once you tried it, you wouldn’t want to eat anything else again. It’s made in many ways but one thing for sure is that you add shredded coconut for a true ambrosia.
Many versions can include pineapple, bananas, marshmallows, or maraschino cherries and others call for a milk base, sour cream, or cool whip type base. Whatever you like, make it however you want but don’t forget the oranges or mandarins!
Maybe add a splash of orange juice to the mix too, but I’ll leave you with a simple recipe.
Stay cool and enjoy!
*1 c mini marshmallows
*1 c shredded or flaked coconut
*1 c canned pineapple, drained (tidbits, chunks or shredded)
*1 c canned mandarin oranges, drained
*1 c sour cream
-Gently mix all ingredients together
-Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours
-For a sweeter base, use cool whip and/or sour cream