The wild oranges of Dubrovnik
Started by a small group of volunteers during the dark days of 1991, with the siege of Dubrovnik in its critical phase and the city filled with refugees, DEŠA gathered local and displaced women and put them to work. The war could take away their land, their homes, their loved ones, but it could never take away their knowledge, their skills, and their traditions.
One such tradition was making treats out of the wild bitter orange that has always had a special place in the gardens of the republic, leaning against stone walls and terraces in courtyards of renaissance monastery gardens and summer residences.
The resourceful women of DEŠA convinced property owners to donate their oranges, a variety found only in the Dubrovnik area, to the organization. Then they used centuries-old recipes to turn their unique scent and taste into a beautiful bitter orange jam and arancini, the famous candied orange peel treat. Because Dubrovnik wild oranges are naturally resistant to pests, they don’t need any pesticides, and are made without any additives or preservatives.
All the income generated from the products goes directly to supporting the organization’s educational center which provides language and skills training to local women. And when we talked to Ana who runs DEŠA she gave us a protip for the jam: have it with dark chocolate!