The citric flavour of Valle del Guadalhorce

The production of citrics in the province of Málaga takes place mostly in Valle del Guadalhorce. There are more than 10.000 hectares where lemons, oranges and tangarines from Málaga are grown. Among all of this production, the most important one are lemons, that constitute 50% of the total citric sales in the province and, during periods when it is produced the most, its total can be over 150.000 tons. The most usual varieties of lemons in Málaga are ‘fino’ and ‘verna’.

The lemon tree of the ‘fino’ variety is normally cultivated in meadows, whereas the ‘verda’ lemon tree normally growths in mountain slopes. The first one grows an oval fruit (sometimes round) with short pith, smooth and thin skin, a high amount of juice and few seeds. ‘Verda’ lemon trees, on the other hand, produce bigger lemons, with thick, wrinkly and irregular skin and less juice. The cultivation of oranges and tangarines in Málaga is also mostly located in Valle del Guadalhorce. The orange tree adapts very well to the climate conditions of the region, since it needs a temperature and humid climate. Málaga grows a lot of oranges (more than 4 tons) and they are also exported to other countries.

The cultivation of tangarines, however, is not as common and it is used mostly for local consumption, since there is a strong tradition in our country of enjoying their flavour.The most common varieties of oranges in Málaga are the Valencian oranges and oranges of the navelate oranges. Valencian oranges (also known as Valencia Late) are the most popular ones and one of the most consumed oranges in the world. Their skin is thin and they have a lot of acid juice. ‘Navelate’ oranges have sweeter taste and their texture is juicier. Mandarines from Málaga are more common than ‘clemenueles’ or ‘clemenvillas’. They are both clementines, although there are some differences between them. ‘Clemenule’ clementines are bigger and easy to peel. Their flesh is juice and have few seeds. ‘Clemenvillas’ are bigger but there are some varieties that are smaller. They are juice and easy to peel, although their taste is slightly bittersweet.

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The Holy Week tradition is very connected to lemons. During this celebration, ‘cascarúo’ lemons, a variety with thick skin, are sold in the street. In order to eat this lemon you have to peel the skin and, once it is peeled, make cuts and put salt or bicarbonate on it. The ‘cascarúo’ lemon is less acid than other varieties, although it has that sour taste that everyone loves.

There is a very refreshing dish in the traditional cuisine from Málaga that joins together bittersweet and savoury flavours and uses oranges are the main ingredient. This dish is the salad from Málaga (‘ensalada malagueña), a dish made with boiled potatoes, olives, cod, tuna, onion and olive oil. This salad is very common during the warm months of summer as a side dish. It is served as one of the best ‘tapas’ in the province.

Citrics such as lemons, oranges and mandarines have several nutritional benefits for our health. Their consumption provide vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and minerals. They also create prebiotic micro-organisms inside our body that helps with bowel transit and prevent colon cancer. Furthermore, they strenghten the growing of natural defences that prevent viruses and illnesses like colds.