Blood Oranges

blood oranges sliced open
photo credit: gourmetsleuth

About

Blood oranges are juicy, sweet and have a dark red interior and are slightly less acidic than regular table oranges. Originally from Sicily, the blood orange has gained in popularity in the US and can be found fresh or in juice form in many grocery stores.

Blood Orange History

While most citrus history starts in China and Japan, it is believed that the more bitter tasting fruits were from India.  The Arabs brought this fruit from Sicily between the 11th and 12th century and taught the Sicilians their perfect irrigation techniques. About 500 years later, the monks planted sweeter varieties. Today, blood oranges constitute more than three quarters of all the citrus crop in Sicily. 

Growing Blood Oranges

We now have growers in the U.S. primarily in Texas, Florida and California but the majority of production is still in Sicily and Spain.

How They Get Their Color

Blood oranges contain a pigment called anthocyanin which is not typically found in citrus but rather more common in other red fruits and flowers. Not only is the inside of the orange darkly pigmented but depending on the variety the outside may also have dark washes of red.

Varieties

The three main blood orange varieties are Tarocco, the Moro and the Sanguigno. The Moro is being grown in San Diego, California. 

Uses

Blood oranges are great for juicing and using as you would common orange juice. The dark red color of the juice makes it a good cocktail ingredient. Use fresh blood orange segments in salads, sauces, sorbets, granitas and compotes. Spanish blood oranges are used in special English marmalades.

Shown here is a blood orange margarita, a specialty of Elote Cafe in Sedona, Arizona.

U.S. Seasons

  • Texas Crop - December to March 
  • California Crop - November to May

Fun Fact about Blood Oranges

Nutrition Information For Blood Oranges

Serving Size
1 tbsp
 
Calories
6
Calories from Fat
0
 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 0mg
0%
Potassium
13g
0%
Total Carbohydrate 2g
0%
Dietary Fiber 1g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
0%
 
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Where To Buy

Check your local grocery store or farmer's market for fresh fruits from December through May.   Juice can be purchased year round in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store.

If you prefer to buy online visit La Vigne Organics - one of the few sources for fresh blood oranges (and juice) located in Fallbrook, California. In addition to fresh whole oranges you can purchase fresh blood orange juice and syrup.

Substitute For Blood Orange

You can substitute regular store variety oranges for any recipe that calls for blood oranges but you will not get rich dark color or tangy flavor.

Sources and Credits

Culinaria Italy - Konemann

Blood Oranges - Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, article discuses varieties, some history and world production.
author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.