Bitter orange is a beautiful evergreen tree and although its flowers are incredibly fragrant, the actual fruit is very sour and bitter (hence the name). Aside from being a key ingredient in Marmalade, bitter orange peel is used in many different things including gins and spirits and liquours.
The fruit of the Citrus sinensis is considered a sweet orange, unlike that of the Citrus aurantium, considered a bitter orange. These orange peels add the perfect amount of citrus bitterness to your brew or distillate.
The orange most commonly used by Distillers is not the one you would usually bite into, nor make juice out of. It’s in fact the bitter orange, which is renowned for its oil-rich rind and powerful citrus aroma. Though for many distillers who simply state “orange,” we don’t always know who might be using which varieties.
The bitter orange frequently used in gin sometimes goes by “bitter orange” or “Seville Orange” or "Sour Orange". Other common names include bigarade, marmalade orange, and sour orange. Prized for their oil-rich rinds, you’re also likely to find this orange in marmalades as they have a pectin rich skin. But bitter oranges are rarely eaten and most are destined for spirits (e.g. gin, Grand Marnier, Cointreau) or perfumes. .
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Further Reading and Learning on Bitter Orange Peel:
Unlike Sweet Orange Peel, bitter orange peel will add a sour taste to your spirit. A great way to accomplish this is through an infusion chamber to carry over the flavor, but can also be done by letting your neutral spirit soak in the peel.
Famous Spirits containing Bitter Orange | Citrus aurantium
- Blue Curacao
- Chase Seville Marmalade Gin
- Grand Marnier
- Sakurao Distillery Japanese Dry Gin
- St. George Botanivore
- Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla
Beer Styles that contain Orange Peel:
BeerCo Recipe Kits that contain Orange Peel:
Dosage Guidance for Belgian Witbiers:
A common mistake many brewers make when first attempting this style is going overboard on the addition of spices. There are two basic times to add spices to a beer: during the boil or post fermentation.
The best technique for adding spices to witbier is a combination of methods. Add them late in the boil, but use restraint. Start out with an amount you know will not be overwhelming. If it turns out the spicing wasn’t enough, you can always bump it up by boiling some spices in a little water and adding them in, or adding dry spices post fermentation.
Use bitter orange peel for a pleasant citrusy character and sweet orange peel for intense orange flavor. Regardless which you choose, start small and adjust your recipe to taste.
Add 0.5 - 1.0 ounce (14–28 grams) of dried orange peel 5 to 15 minutes before the end of the boil, or steep in hot water for 10 minutes and add to the secondary for 19 Litre / US 5 Gallon Batch Sizes.
Add 70-140 grams of dried orange peel 5 mins from end of boil, or steep in hot water for 10 minutes and add to the secondary per 1 hL (100 Litres) for Craft Brewers.
Further Reading on Belgian Witbier:
Belgian Witbier | Brew Your Own
Orange Appeal | Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine