Persian bitter oranges, the narenj fruit, are a specialty during Nowruz, the Persian New Year. They are served with fish and can also be used to make this Persian sour or bitter orange syrup.
We are officially in the month of March and that means spring is not far off. Time seems to be zipping by for me. How about you? The first day of Spring is March 20th, and that means Nowruz, the Persian New Year is here.
Every year I put together our family sofreh and every year I mix things up and prepare it differently. Nowruz is one of my favorite holidays, and I am always thrilled to see that spring has arrived.
And just when I think my kids don’t care about these such things, while I frantically clean and prepare our haft sin, I can see their faces glow with excitement.
They might reluctantly help with the spring cleaning around house, but they still love to sneak sweets off the sofreh and celebrate the new year at their grandparents’ house for the traditional meal.
I have shared with you the many traditions and foods associated with Nowuz in past posts. I am happy to say, that I have written an ebook that has everything you need to celebrate Nowruz. You can learn more about my Nowruz ebook here.
Why you should try this recipe
Bitter orange, or narenj in Farsi, is that bumpy looking ugly orange that is not sweet at all. Some Americans refer to them as ornamental oranges, because they are not sweet and they don’t see any use for them.
But Persians love the narenj as it is another sour fruit profile for Persian cooking. The narenj fruit is in season for nowruz, the Persian new year. We use it instead of lemons with our traditional new year meal of sabzi pollo ba mahi (dill rice with fish).
The bitter orange is used in many aspects of Persian cooking, from syrups to soups. The flavor is a cross between a lemon and an orange.
Today’s recipe is a bitter orange syrup made with oranges, lemons and narenj. My grandmother would make this syrup and keep it in her refrigerator, where it would last for months. Anytime they wanted to enjoy a refreshing citrus drink, they would add a tablespoon of the bitter orange syrup to water.
My grandmother was ahead of her time. When added to seltzer or club soda, you would have a fun orangey soda!
Ingredients you need
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- Freshly squeezed orange juice: I encourage you to use freshly squeeze orange juice instead of store bought as it has all so much amazing flavor and pulp.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice: This is another component to sweet and tangy syrup. Again, freshly squeezed offers up so much more flavor.
- Freshly squeezed sour orange (narenj): This is a true cross between sweet orange juice and sour lemon juice.
- Granulated sugar: As we are making a syrup that will be diluted with water, seltzer or club soda, we use regular granulated sugar. You can use honey instead.
- Grated orange zest: Orange zest offers up tremendous flavor and aroma.
1. Combine juices and sugar in a small pot and stir over low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and syrup thickens, approximately 10 minutes. Do not boil.
2. Remove from heat and stir in 2 TBS orange zest. Let mixture cool to room temperature then transfer to bottles. Top with 1 TBS orange zest. Syrup will keep in the refrigerated, sealed in a bottle for up to 2 months.
Expert tips and recipe FAQs
This recipe for bitter orange syrup recipe can last for a month or two if stored in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator. You can also freeze this syrup for up to one year.
Narenj is farsi for the bitter orange. Although most of the western world does not care for these sour tasting fruits, middle easterners, especially Persians, use them frequently. Typically ripe in the spring, Persians serve narenj with fish and other foods for nowruz, the Persian new year.
While most people think that bitter oranges are too sour to be edible, many Persians love this fruit. Narenj, or bitter oranges, are served with food when they are in season in the spring. Its juice is used anytime lemon or something sour is needed in a dish.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 3 oranges
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, approximately 1 large lemon
- ½ cup freshly squeezed sour orange (narenj), approximately 2 sour oranges
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBS grated orange zest
- Combine juices and sugar in a small pot and stir over low heat.
- Stir until sugar is dissolved and syrup thickens, approximately 10 minutes. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat and stir in 2 TBS orange zest.
- Let mixture cool to room temperature then transfer to bottles. Top with 1 TBS orange zest.
- Syrup will keep in the refrigerated, sealed in a bottle for up to 2 months.
Serving Suggestions: Use approximately 1 TBS of orange syrup for every 6-8 ounces of water. It can also be added to club soda.
Serving Size:1 TBS
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 67Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g
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