Kosereva is a sweet dessert from Paraguay made of apepu sour orange peels, sugar, and molasses. The preserved orange rings are a mixture of sweet and sour, and are typically served by themselves or with a side of soft cheese.
History of kosereva
Kosereva has a long history that dates back to Spanish colonization of the Paraguayan region, when the conquistadors preserved citrus fruit on their long journey across the ocean by cooking fruit in trimmed barrels with black molasses. This practice of preserving fruit helped to combat scurvy, a disease resulting from low vitamin C, known as the “sailor’s disease” due to its high incidence in sailors without access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The preserved fruit tradition was adopted by Paraguayans and the recipe has been passed down through generations.
While Kosereva is typical of Paraguay, the sour oranges known as apepu in the local Paraguayan Guarani language, are found in the region and were likely brought to South America by the Spanish colonists. The bittersweet orange found in Paraguay’s Asuncion region is a cousin to a similar citrus found in the Mediterranean in Italy and Spain, and similar genes of the same fruit have been found in Florida and other parts of South America, confirming their transport on Spanish exploring ships. The apepu orange is also used to make essential oils and is also known by the names of orange bigarade, Seville orange, naranja cajera or naranja cachorreña.
Kosereva, which translated from Guarani as “conserve”, is a marmalade recipe that is traditionally made over the course of many days. The orange peels are placed in a large clay pot with water to boil and then left to cool until the next day when the water is changed and the peels are reboiled. This process is repeated each day and after a period of five to eight days, the orange peels have softened and are preserved by cooking with sugar and molasses, and then stored in sterilized jars until they are consumed.
Today the recipe has been condensed, taking the cooking time from a few days to a few hours. The result is a sweet yet acidic marmalade type candy that is enjoyed on its own as a sweet or paired with a soft cheese as a snack or breakfast.
Kosereva is a famous dish in Paraguay and is a favorite of travelers and tourists who visit the country. Paraguayan cuisine consists of mainly corn, grilled meats, milk, cheese, and river fish, as well as fruits like apepu. Some of the most popular dishes include pastel mand’io (or empanadas with manioca), asado (assorted grilled meats), corn flour tortillas (omelettes) made with scallions, and soyo (a beef soup with tomatoes and peppers). Most desserts in Paraguay are made from milk or cheese, such as dulce de leche or various cakes found in pastelerias throughout the country. And a Paraguayan meal wouldn’t be complete without terere, a tea made from yerba mate.
We hope you take the time to make this kosereva recipe, as it is a traditional Paraguayan specialty that is fading in popularity due to its long cooking time. However, sometimes the best things in life take a little more care and time and this kosereva recipe is proof.
- 10 apepú (sour oranges), ripe
- 2½ cups caster sugar
- 2 cups black molasses
- 2 cloves
- 1 cup water
- Peel the sour oranges as thinly as possible. This should yield about 1½ lb of orange peels.
- Cut the oranges in half and remove all the pulp leaving the white part (pith). Set aside (not used for this recipe).
- Place the the orange peels in a pot and cover them with water.
- Bring to a boil and boil for 4 minutes.
- Then, discard the water.
- Repeat this operation 4 times.
- Place the sour orange peels in a pot with the sugar, the black molasses, the cloves and the water.
- Mix well and cook on low heat until thickened (between 2 and 3 hours).
- Pour the mixture into one or more glass jars and store in the refrigerator.
- Kosereva can be eaten by itself or with Paraguayan cheese.
The sour orange pulp, which is not used in this recipe, can be used to make a delicious jam.