Published by: Gourmet Sleuth
Last Updated: 02/28/2019
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.
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.
Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stave off cognitive decline, and even cancer. You can find this antioxidant in other fruits and vegetables too. Look for dark blue and red fruits and vegetables like red cabbage, black berries and blue berries and strawberries too. Even eggplants contain this compound. This is a good article on the topic if you want to read more.
Another pinkish red orange is the Cara Cara pink navel orange. While it's a nice flavorful and visual substitute for a blood orange its color does not come from anthocyanin but from lycopene, the same compound that give tomatoes their red color. But still, it's another pink to red orange that's good for you.
In general citrus fruits are very healthful. Sadly the Keto diet does not allow oranges on the Ketogenic plan. On the other hand it is a perfectly Paleo friendly food.
The four main blood orange varieties are:
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. The juice can also be used to make sauces and salad dressings.
If you can find more than one variety try slicing them or segmenting them and use them together is a salad; the color is amazing. 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.