An ortanique is a cross between a sweet orange and a tangerine. This citrus cultivar was discovered in Jamaica in the early 1900s, and it continues to be widely produced there. A well-grown ortanique is a medium-sized fruit with a strong citrus aroma and a tangy, slightly sweet flavor. Jamaican ortaniques are very pale in color, with a juicy flesh and no seeds, and they are widely considered to be the best versions of this citrus fruit.
The ortanique is classified as a tangor, meaning that it is a cross between a tangerine and a sweet orange. There are a number of tangor cultivars grown around the world, including Murcotts and a number of Japanese hybrids. One interesting things about the ortanique is that its flavor and composition varies, depending on where it is grown. Ortaniques from the tropics retain the pale flesh, seedlessness, and rich juicy flavor of the Jamaican ortanique. However, when ortaniques are grown in places like the Mediterranean, they grow thick rinds and seeds start to appear.
There are a number of ways to use the ortanique. Many people enjoy eating the fruit out of hand, because it can be flavorful and very refreshing. It is also possible to press the ortanique for juice, which can be drunk plain or blended with other fruit juices. Ortanique wedges can also be included in fruit salads and used as garnishes, and the fruit can be used in sorbet, preserves, and a variety of other sweets. Ortaniques can also be candied, with or without the peel.
Depending on where you are, you may find it easy or difficult to obtain an ortanique. Because the growing environment for this citrus fruit is very limited, only small numbers of them can be shipped outside the tropics. In tropical regions, you may be able to find the ortanique in markets pretty much anywhere. Outside the tropics, you may need to seek out a large market, ideally one which caters to a Jamaican population.
If you're wondering about the origins of the name “ortanique,” the word is an amalgam of “orange,” “tangerine,” and “unique,” and it is meant to reflect the unique character of the fruit, along with the cultivars involved in its production. Most ortaniques cultivated today come from the original parent stock cultivated in the early 1900s, with people simply taking cuttings and propagating new trees.