Now that winter is here, it’s time to leave behind the apples and indulge in citrus. This is when my fruit bowl overflows with oranges, satsumas, clementines and grapefruit. I usually blend them together for a refreshing, cold-kicking juice (or add Champagne for a little hair of the dog).
Of all the winter fruits, the blood orange is my favorite. Its juicy, garnet-colored flesh has a deliciously subtle raspberry flavor. Its crimson hue comes from anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments found in berries: the deeper the color, the higher the concentration of antioxidants. If you’ve never tried blood oranges, you’re in for a treat. Here are a few tips and some yummy recipes to keep you fixated on this delightful fruit.
Cheers and enjoy!
When to buy and how to select
Now is the time to stock up on this succulent fruit. Unlike regular oranges, which are available year-round, blood oranges are only in season from December through May. Choose ones that are firm and heavy, which indicate a juicier orange. Coloration on the skin shouldn’t affect the taste, but make sure there is no bruising.
The three main varieties of blood oranges are the Moro, Sanquinello and Tarocco. All three are native to the Mediterranean, with Sicily being one of the top producers in Europe. In the US, most blood oranges come from California or Texas. The most common variety is the Moro, which has deep, red-purple coloration, fewer seeds and a berry-like flavor. The tart, spicy Sanquinello has dark red flesh and rind. The largest blood orange is the Tarocco, which has a sweet-tart flavor and orange-hued rind. Its flesh develops a red blush when ripe. Most US stores only carry the California-grown Moro, so you’re best going to a specialty market to find other varieties of blood oranges.
Cooking with blood oranges
The creative possibilities are endless. Sprinkle salads with orange segments, add the juice to a vinaigrette and drizzle over scallops, or add to desserts for a burst of citrus flavor. The rich color and delicate berry-citrus taste of blood oranges also add pizazz to cocktails. If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few delectable recipes to get you going:
Can’t wait to try out this refreshing cocktail recipe by Blender Babes that uses fresh, blended juice: Blood Orange Mojitos
I’m fascinated with this subtly sweet and tangy cake by Smitten Kitchen: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
And a few more from our own test kitchen:
Are you smitten with blood oranges and have a recipe or tip you’d like to share? Let us know!