When I was growing up back East in the 70s, oranges were not as ubiquitous as they are today, especially in the winter. To my grandfather, who came from the Old Country, this was a fruit to be treated with reverence, and as if to show his respect he would remove the rind in one spiraling piece before offering us grandkids a section.

In the Pale, oranges were both a valued food and medicine. In One Foot in America, author Yuri Suhl recalls how when his mother lay dying in their Galician town, on the advice of a feldsher (or medic), his father was somehow able to buy an orange in the dead of winter. This fruit he was advised to feed to his wife. The precious rinds were then placed around the room to cleanse the air. Too valuable to discard, these same peels would eventually be made into preserves.

A similar story is recounted in the book, The Feldshers, where orange peels were used to fumigate and disinfect the air in infirmaries.

Orange peel is included in many contemporary bitters formulations to both harmonize flavor and add medicinal strength. And today we are aware of the nutritional quality of citrus fruits, most notably their high vitamin C content. I like to dry tangerine peels and then add these to tea blends all year long for an added depth of flavor.


The Feldshers by Edward Kossoy and Abraham Ohry (1996) p. 39

One Foot in America by Yuri Suhl (1950) p. 13