Blood oranges to me ooze fiery passion and opulence with their crimson flesh and sweet flavour.
The season, like that of Seville oranges, is short so eat them now. They grow in climates that offer dry hot summers and cool winters with an extreme temperature difference between day and night.
It is this which produces anthocyanin, an antioxidant found in blueberries, raspberries and red apples giving these fruits their fabulous colours. The volcanic soil under Mount Etna is perfect for growing blood oranges and the surroundings just adds to their theatrical drama! I don’t really understand the chemistry but if you add a pinch of baking soda you can turn the red juice a purple blue.
My best recipe is to just split them and eat or squeeze them and drink at breakfast. They are extremely good for you, full of vitamin C and A and also improve circulation. To extract the maximum juice from any citrus fruit warm it slightly, either in an airing cupboard, in a very low oven or give it a couple of 10 second blasts in a microwave and allow the fruit to sit for a couple of minutes.
To cut the perfect segments from a citrus fruit put it in the freezer to go really cold and firm but not frozen. Remove the outer peeo of the fruit and holding it in the palm of your hand cut down each side of the segment just inside the membrane. Orange segments make an easy and beautiful garnish to any dessert and blood orange segments just adds decadence.
Blood Orange Curd
An easy, tangy curd that’s as delicious spread on toast as it is spread thickly in the middle of a Victoria sandwich, or makes a fabulous orange meringue pie Makes about three 240ml jars.
- 200ml blood orange juice (about 3 oranges), squeezed and strained
- Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed blood orange
- 125g unsalted butter
- 400g granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs plus 2 yolks, well beaten
Put the juice, zest, butter and sugar in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. As soon as the butter has melted, and the mixture is hot and glossy, pour in the beaten eggs through a sieve and whisk with a balloon whisk.
Stir the mixture over a gentle heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 12-15 minutes – a sugar thermometer should read 82-84C . Pour immediately into warm, sterilised jars and seal. Use within three or four weeks and keep in the fridge once opened.
Blood Orange Syllabub
Serve as a dessert in its own right with a sweet crisp biscuit or as a quenelle standing proud on a tart tartin. However you use it, it will add drama to your supper. Try a trifle!
- ½ a pint of cream
- 20g of caster sugar
- 15ml of sweet white wine, dessert wine is perfect
- Zest and juice of one good blood orange
Whip the cream and sugar to soft peaks and add the wine and blood orange juice and zest.
Photo by nessguide