Blood oranges take you by surprise every time you cut one open. Even the name makes you sit up and wonder. Sometimes their flesh is pure red; sometimes, it’s orange with random red streaks. Go ahead, sip up the juice that pours out – it’s reddish-pink, tart, and sweet.
While blood oranges tend to be tart, ours have a distinct sweetness too. You’ll likely also experience a hint of raspberry. Blood oranges get their color from pigments called anthocyanins that help the fruit endure environmental stress. The color variations you see are the result of temperature fluctuations. On the same tree, an individual fruit that catches more of a chill will have a darker color than one protected by leaves. Each fruit is unique, and that’s what makes them fun to eat out of hand or use in recipes and drinks. There are endless ideas for how to use their dramatic color and flavor. Here are a few to get you started:
- Toss them into a salad with roasted beets and drizzle with Chef Mario's vinaigrette.
- Juice them and add a festive splash to a glass of Prosecco.
- Chef Becky also whips them into her Blood Orange and Strawberry Marmalade – a bright, beautiful combination of sweet and tart.
What we know and what we don’t
The anthocyanins in blood oranges are antioxidants. And like all citrus, blood oranges are brimming with Vitamin C. Blood oranges are also a little bit mysterious. No one knows exactly where they came from. Some say they may have originated in China or around the southern Mediterranean region. Spanish settlers cultivated them in South America in the 1500s and later in the United States. The Tarocco and Moro varieties we grow here at Frog Hollow Farm are natives of Italy. Our Sanguinelli variety is a native of Spain.
Curiosity at the farm
Farmer Al planted blood oranges at Frog Hollow Farm in 1994. By that time, people knew us for our stone fruit, but Farmer Al wanted to mix it up. He was curious, and he likes to try new varieties that sound interesting.
Farmer Al was also looking for a way to keep crews busy throughout the year, and our three blood orange varieties help us get there. We harvest Tarocco first, in late December and early January. Moro is up next, and we pick Sanguinelli last.
Don't miss these unique and delicious fruits this winter season. They are truly a treat!