Blood oranges are such a wintertime treat. They always surprise me. I have so much fun peeling one…what are the colors going to be? What are the predominant flavors going to be? Each blood orange has its own personality and the flavors range from typical mild orange to raspberry and blackberry. Blood orange pigmentation is based on anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants. Sometimes this pigmentation shows on the rind but mostly shows inside the fruit. They tend to be less acidic than other table orange varieties and are often served in salads, sauces, preserves or as fresh fruit dessert. Blood orange juice is readily available in Italy and is served as a mid-day drink or used to make sorbetto. Blood oranges probably originated in Southeast Asia. Today they are mostly grown in Italy, Greece, Israel, Spain, and the United States. In the USA, blood oranges are grown in California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida.
Varieties: Moro, Sanguinello, Tarocco
Moro is a colorful blood orange ranging from intense orange to red vermilion to deep ruby to deep purple, with often this entire color range held within one orange. Each color provides its own flavor making it a treat to eat each individual section. Grown in Sicily and California, it is larger in size than other blood orange varieties with a bright blend of sweet-tart flavors making it ideal for cooking.
Sanguinello takes its name from sangue or blood. It has a sweet-tart flavor making it good for cooking or eating. With streaks of bright red to purple, each one is a visual work of art. This variety is harvested later than other varieties, from February through April.
Tarocco is a very popular blood orange throughout Italy. Mounds of them are prominently displayed in the outdoor markets often with a few cut open as enticement – it’s futile to resist! This seedless variety is the sweetest, has the highest Vitamin C content of all orange varieties and makes a good eating orange.
Citrus x Sinensis is a member of the Rutaceae family. Each blood orange is a great source of Vitamin C, providing up to 130% recommended daily intake according to the FDA.
Also a good source of dietary fiber, blood oranges provide calcium, folate, thiamine, and Vitamin A. One orange, weighing about 5 ounces, contains only 70 calories.