by Mabelle Chedid , the president of The Food Heritage Foundation, a Lebanese non-profit organization that aims at preserving , documenting and reviving Lebanon’s traditional heritage .
Bousfeir is the Lebanese name for the Seville orange, also known as bitter orange, grown all over the Mediterranean, and commonly used in the cuisine of this region.
The most common recipe is bitter orange jam, also known as marmalade. Despite variations in preparation techniques from one country to another, all recipes omit the use of pectin since this fruit is a rich source of soluble fiber, more so than sweet oranges.
The Lebanese coast is renowned for its large citrus and bousfeir orchards, though the number has dwindled alarmingly over the years. The towns of Maghdoushe, Sidon and Tripoli are all famous for their traditional production of orange blossom water, mazaher. Mazaher is used to prepare syrup to drizzle over Arabic and Lebanese sweets such as nammoura, knefe, and baklawa. It flavors several desserts such as roz bi haleeb (rice pudding), maamoul, and layali lebnan. It is the main ingredient in “white coffee”, ahwe bayda, a soothing caffeine-free hot drink consumed as a digestive after meals. Bitter orange syrup is also prepared by boiling bitter orange juice with sugar over a medium fire. When diluted, Bousfeir syrup makes for a refreshing summer cocktail.
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