The word mutation could possibly beget thoughts of deformity or bizarre appearances, but in the case of the blood orange, mutation resulted in a new, flavorful member of the citrus family. The blood orange is a unique citrus fruit that has a multitude of health benefits and can be utilized in a variety of culinary applications.
The blood orange is the result of a cross between the pomelo and the tangerine that occurred naturally in Sicily, Italy, in the 17th century. The small- to medium-sized fruit has a tasty and juicy flesh that offers the distinct flavor profile of refreshing orange with a hint of fresh raspberry. When ripe, the skin can exhibit a reddish to deep-red cast that is either pitted or smooth. They are virtually free of seeds, much less acidic than the average sweet orange, and easy to peel and section.
The blood orange is unique to the citrus family because of its red pigmented flesh. The vibrant color of full and deep blood oranges like the Moro and Tarocco is the result of concentrated levels of anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant that is usually associated with other red fruits and flowers, and neutralizes effects of free radical chemicals within the bodies of living organisms. The less pungent coloration of light blood oranges like the Sanguigno is principally caused by the carotenoid pigment, lycopene, which all oranges contain to provide their orange color. The blushed pigment of a blood orange varies according to climate; however, regions with hot days and cold nights tend to produce a more intense color.
Blood oranges were introduced to America by Spanish and Italian immigrants in the 1930s. It is only in recent years that its popularity has rapidly increased in the United States. Aside from its rich antioxidant compounds, blood oranges are also known for their high vitamin C, potassium, carotene and dietary fiber contents, all of which have extensive health benefits. According to obiolla.com, the consumption of blood orange juice contributes to overall general good health and disease resistance.
Due to its proven ability to add color, zest, style and appeal in anything from cocktails to entrées, blood oranges are a coveted commodity in trendy commercial kitchens and to creative household gourmets. The blast of flavor offered by blood oranges can enhance a range of salads, improve sauces and add an energizing zing to sorbetto and premium gelato. PreGel’s Red Orange is a best Super Sprint seller for its refreshingly unique flavor. Blood oranges work well in granitas, compotes, marmalades, and add excitement to rice dishes. Blood oranges are also a wonderful complement to roasted or grilled meat or poultry.
Though juice can be purchased year-round in the refrigerator section of the grocery store, fresh blood oranges are a seasonal fruit. American-grown crops usually come from Florida, California and Texas. Check with local grocery stores or farmers’ markets to find out availability of this enticing palate-pleaser and appetizing tool for culinary artists.
Organic Bioactive juices and natural care products since 1957 is a site that presents the full text of many essential facts about the blood orange citrus fruit. (obiolla.com).
BellyBytes: Good Eats. (2009).
Moro Oranges Retrieved July 8, 2009, from Bellybytes.com/food/moro_oranges.html.
Sweet Orange Citrus
Sinesis. (2009). Blood Oranges Retrieved March 5, 2009, from Users.kymp.net/citruspages/