Laraha orange tree
Stunted orange tree which bear bitter inedible fruit hides a real treasure. Even though the nature missed to give these oranges sweet juice it is compensated by unique smell and when the peels are dissolved in alcohol the taste is delicious. This small jewel grows only in arid and tropic climate of Curaçao island located not far from the north coast of South America. It is the most important ingredience used to produce Curacao liqueur.
History of Laraha oranges
Laraha (lat. Citrus aurantium currassuviencis) emerged by just chance and we can thank to even bigger chance that someone has discovered aromas of its peel. In 15th century when Spanish conquistadors started to colonize the New world they wanted to have juicy and sweet Valencia orange and they brought several trees with them. Dry climate and barren soil of Curaçao were not suitable for the trees and soon Spanish have left bitter fruit alone. Larahas as the locals started to call them spread out around the island and 4 centuries later they were discovered by Edouard Cointreau junior. The young man from a family of industrialist needed much more oranges because he had an idea to distill a spirit out of the bitter but very aromatic peels which were used maybe just in jams. Larahas enabled the world to see one of the best selling triple sec the liqueur Cointreau but themselves they remained unused. It was only in 1896 when Senior family which arrive to the island from Iberian Peninsula decided to try their luck with the local fruit and they called their liqueur simply Curacao. Nowadays they own the biggest orchard of Laraha oranges which is about 45 trees and they buy up most of the world or rather Curaçao harvest.
Laraha trees are quite small with its only 3 meters because regular orange trees can grow up to the height of 10 metres. Each tree bears 2 times a year 150-200 fruits but only if you pick the oranges with stems as well. If you would leave the stem on the tree whole branch would die away but when you take it you can expect even bigger harvest the next year. In fact it will be in half a year already because warm tropic climate allows two harvest a year. The fruit is picked green because when it's ripe the skin is too thin. 100 grams of dried peels can be produced of each orange and the peel is the base ingredient of Curacao liqueur.
How is the Laraha orange peel processed?
It is quite a quick process from the fruit till the final spirit but it require resolution and a bit of experience which is the Senior family secret of course. Unripe fruit are cut by wooden knife so that the appearance of mainly the taste remain intact. Oranges are cut into quarters and the flesh is removed. Humans don't like the bitter pulp however local goat eat it with appetite. The peel is sun-dried for 5 days and it is important to keep it dry for all the time so the peel is covered in the case of rain. Dried peel is collected into jute bags which hang dived into alcohol for 4 days. Secret herbs are added and it is macerated for 2 more days. Only then the alcohol is distilled. Curacao is put into barrel where it mature for some time. Senior Curacao is also colored by blue, green, orange and red colorant. Connoisseurs of course prefer naturally colorless liqueuer.Share with friends