Grown primarily around the Mediterranean and now California (yay!), this sweet-tart orange has a bright red flesh. Most blood oranges are best eaten fresh, but the more acidic varieties like the Maltese work well in cooked sauces like the Hollandaise based Maltaise sauce.
The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night. Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can be tougher and harder to peel than that of other oranges. The blood orange is a natural mutation of the orange.
Blood oranges may have originated in either China or the Southern Mediterranean, where they have been grown since the 18th century. They are now the primary orange grown in Italy. Italy. The anthocyanins which give the orange its distinct maroon color will only develop when temperatures are low at night, as during the Mediterranean fall and winter. Blood oranges cultivated in the United States are in season from December to March (Texas), and from November to May (California). Since they are only around in the spring season and make such a lovely addition to your mimosa instead of regular orange juice – a bright vibrant color. If you can, juice these oranges and freeze the juice for use all year round.
Blood oranges have a unique flavor profile compared to other oranges, being distinctly raspberry-like in addition to the usual citrus notes.
Some blood orange juice may be somewhat tart, while other kinds are sweet while retaining the characteristic blood orange taste. The oranges can also be used to create marmalade, and the zest can be used for baking. A popular Sicilian winter salad is made with sliced blood oranges, sliced bulb fennel, and olive oil. The oranges have also been used to create gelato, sorbet and Italian Soda. Blood oranges are also popular in vinaigrette-style dressings, and are sometimes used to flavor niche-market beer.
Blood oranges are a source of vitamin C like all citrus fruits. A medium-sized orange also provides 28% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.