What can I do with a couple hundred pounds of sour oranges?
April 30, 2006 1:16 PM   Subscribe

What can I do with a couple hundred pounds of sour oranges?

Here's the scoop. We have an orange tree that either had a really bad year or is ornamental or something, because the oranges look good, they smell good, but they taste like ass. I'm pretty loath to just toss them in the garbage, because that's a lot of sugar and other organic material to waste, but I'm not going to make gallons of marmalade and no one would want to eat them.

So. Can I just put them in a corner of the yard and let the birds, insects, and lizards go nuts or what are we looking at there? Because that's my only idea.

Bonus question: identify this tree so I know if I can get some good ones next year of if they're just lookin' oranges. Also, they're lumpy because they've been sitting out way too long.

posted by Optimus Chyme to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Two words: Prison. Hooch.
posted by sourwookie at 1:24 PM on April 30, 2006

Best answer: they may be chinotto or some other variety of bitter/sour orange. other than marmalade, you could definitely make a nice sour orange liqueur pretty easily.
posted by judith at 2:34 PM on April 30, 2006

You could build an orange trebuchet and wage siege warfare on your neighbors.

Or if you are really mean-spirited, you could give them to kids this Halloween (fruit and bad tasting == worst treat ever)

i'd probably try to find some way to compost them, but then, i'm really lazy.
posted by quin at 2:34 PM on April 30, 2006

you could also juice them and freeze the juice in cubes and use them for cooking if they're just a little sour or bitter - they might be nice to add to fish or chicken.
posted by judith at 2:37 PM on April 30, 2006

ditto to alcohol. And if next year the crop sucks again, you can drink away your disappointment as the wine will be done aging by then.

p.s. Don't leave them rotting in your yard unless you want to host a drosophila makeout party.
posted by neda at 2:40 PM on April 30, 2006

Myself, I'd go and make mead with it. I just recently did a beer that used Blood Oranges (http://www.maltosefalcons.com/recipes/20060402.php)

Lot of fun. I managed to get about 10 liters from 50 pounds of blood oranges.

If you wanted to make mead, the easiest way to do it would be to take 4 gallons (~15 liters) of juice and mix it with 17 lbs of honey in a sanitized bucket, add a little wine yeast and walk away for a few months. (Somewhat similiar to what one of my fellow brewers did here: http://www.maltosefalcons.com/recipes/20051201.php)
posted by drewbage1847 at 3:04 PM on April 30, 2006

Why aren't you going to make metric craploads of marmalade? Marmalade is the prince of jams, and makes a great gift (going to stay with someone? it beats a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates), donation to local charity sales, and eating on toast.
posted by Hogshead at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2006

I second the liquor/wine idea. Everyone loves homemade hooch.

If you decide to go the route of composting/disposal, my grandfather used to take any worthless fruit and dump it all in a hole he dug in the ground nearby something that could use the nutrients. Don't just dump them in a pile, they will need heaps and heaps of dry matter (carbon) to compost without being a nuisance. Whatever you do, don't just leave them in a garbage pail with the lid on until you forget about them. You'll just end up with maggot soup like I did once.
posted by a_green_man at 4:56 PM on April 30, 2006

A great way to compost oranges is to run over them a dozen at a time with the lawnmower (not a bagging mower). It doesn't do anything to the blade and they decompose very quickly when ground into mush.

Hmmm...a great way assuming you don't have kids or a dog that is.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:11 PM on April 30, 2006

If you just want to dispose of them, make a proper compost heap.

Somewhere away from the orange tree, and in a spot inaccessible to dogs, lay down a six-inch bed of rough prunings and jab a thick garden stake down through the middle of them. Add a layer of oranges. Cover with about three inches of grass clippings, weeds, leaf litter - whatever you've got handy - then sprinkle on a shovelful of topsoil. Add another layer of oranges, more grass clippings, and more soil. Keep building up the heap in layers around the garden stake until you run out of oranges, then cover the whole lot with more grass clippings so no oranges are visible.

In a week or two, this heap will heat right up. Pull the garden stake out to create an aeration chimney. You'll see steam coming out the top.

In about two months, you'll have a shallow mound of dark crumbly compost wriggling with happy earthworms under a thin thatch of grass clippings.
posted by flabdablet at 6:57 PM on April 30, 2006

How big are they? About the size of ordinary Sunkist oranges, or smaller? If they're about walnut-to-tangerine size, you might have a Rangpur lime, which is actually a really really sour mandarin orange. They never get sweet.

Whatever type of citrus you've got there, you can make "lemonade" or sherbet from the juice. If it's too sour to overcome with sugar alone, you can titrate the acid with baking soda (a base). Not double-acting baking powder, just plain old baking soda. Add a pinch at a time, stir well and taste between additions. For about 4 cups of Rangpur lime juice I end up adding about 1/8 tsp or less. If you add too much it will get a nasty metallic taste, and "too much" happens very suddenly. Better to stop while it's still a touch on the sour side - it will still have some zing after you add the sugar. Heavenly in hot weather!
posted by Quietgal at 7:27 PM on April 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll look into making marmalade as well as the compost heap. I think we'll take a clipping to the nursery and see if's it's a Citrus aurantium or what.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:06 PM on April 30, 2006

Response by poster: Quietgal, they're about 4-6" in diameter, definitely not a Rangpur.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:08 PM on April 30, 2006

Make an orange cannon out of some pvc pipe. Just copy the plans from this potato gun.
posted by tadellin at 9:45 AM on May 1, 2006

« Older Anyone have lasEk surgery?   |   Money for Nothing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.