Oranges, oranges, oranges. Orange you glad you are in Antalya this time of year?
We are completely surrounded by the bountiful orange harvest right now. In every market, in every pazar, and at every roadside stand you can find oranges, mandarin oranges, and clementines. In our entire lives we have never had oranges this juicy or sweet!
History of Oranges in Antalya
While bitter oranges (which line most of the streets in Antalya) have been around in this part of the world since the 7th century, sweet oranges came to Turkey much later. In 1488, after the Portuguese mariner Bartolomeu Dias successfully sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the southernmost tip of Africa, trade was opened up with the south of Asia through the Indian Ocean. This enabled the Portuguese to bring new exports to the rest of the world, including the sweet orange from China.
Fun fact for all of you language geeks out there, in Turkish, orange is “portakal” which is derived from “Portekiz,” or Portugal. All over the Mediterranean, names like Portugal, Portogallo, Portokale, Portokali were once given to the orange thanks to its Portuguese exporters. Interestingly enough, in Germanic origin languages, orange is some derivative of “Apfelsinen,” which literally means “Chinese Apple.”
Here in Antalya, oranges were not really a staple until after Turkey became a republic. In 1936 under the direction of the Citrus Station, an institute that still exists today as the Western Mediterranean Agricultural Research Institute Directorate, various oranges were introduced and cultivated outside of the city center. Today, the orange is the official symbol of Antalya and trees can be seen all over the province.
We are so lucky to live right across the street from an orange orchard. Our neighbor and his ten siblings take care of thirty trees of oranges and mandarines. In January when the fruit is juicy and ripe, they sell them on the road side. In early January, we loved going over and picking oranges right off the tree and couldn’t believe how sweet and juicy the oranges were! We also enjoyed getting to know our neighbor a bit in the process.
Oranges are available mostly year round here, but January and February are the months when they are absolutely delicious and economical.
We prefer the roadside stands over the pazar because the price will be better and the oranges are picked fresh that very day. An added bonus to stopping at a road side stand is the opportunity to meet the farmer and ask questions about the orchard and its operations firsthand. Turks are so hospitable and welcoming, the personal experience will be worth it even if you can’t communicate well.
If you can’t find a road side stand and want to visit a local pazar, check out our post on pazars in Konyaaltı and Muratpaşa.