Blood simple... oranges

An intense citrus flavour with a zing redolent of raspberries, the blood orange is high up on the list of my favourite fruits. They're usually a treat that appears in our shops at Christmas, and they usually stay on the shelves until about the end of March.
 
Most of the blood oranges that we eat come from the foothills of Mount Etna in Sicily, where the weather is ideal for growing them. In order to ripen properly and deepen in their characteristic blood-red colour, a cold snap is needed. Thus, consistently warm Florida, though it's home to most of the world's oranges, is an unsuitable climate for growing blood oranges.
 
The red pigment is an antioxidant, and so is thought to bring health benefits that include combating obesity and heart disease.
 
The blood orange, like its cousins, loves earthy flavours, such as beetroot or the deeply savoury tang of goat's cheese. Their sweetness also makes them a delightful pairing with seafood, such as scallops and crab.
 
Their flavour is distinctive, but any recipe that uses oranges will work just as well with blood oranges - often better. Try making sorbets or even upside-down cake. Just make sure to taste them first, as you may need to adjust the amount of sugar depending on their sweetness.
 
When I cook with blood oranges I try and make dishes that really show off the fruit's stunning colour. It would be a shame to bury that vivid scarlet in a mountain of other ingredients, or drown it with other colours. The salads that I've made here use different colours so that the red really stands out.
 
Look out for blood oranges in your local greengrocer. I've seen them this year at The Happy Pear in Greystones, Co Wicklow; Fallon and Byrne in Exchequer St, D2; Cavistons Food Emporium in Sandycove, Co Dublin, as well as in my own local: the wonderful Village Greengrocer in Castlemartyr, Co Cork.
 

Blood Orange Recipes: 

 

Rachel's tip

When buying blood oranges, the amount of reddish-pink blushing on their skin will tell you how red the fruit will be on the inside. The more colour it has, then the more flavour it has, so look for oranges with lots of red.
 

Rachel recommends

We hear more and more all the time of the virtues of cider vinegar. It's been used as a natural treatment for many centuries. I've recently been using a lot of Karmine, a delicious cider vinegar made by The Apple Farm in Tipperary. The cider vinegar they make is both unfiltered and unpasteurised, so after opening the bottle, the naturally occurring bacteria causes a jellyfish-like object to form. This is known as the 'mother' and is hugely beneficial to the flavour of the cider vinegar in the bottle. Their cider vinegar is lovely in salad dressings and sauces, or you can take a few teaspoons taken in some warm water with honey in the morning. The Apple Farm sells apple juice and vinegar in food shops across the country, see theapplefarm.com

Shaneod Feb 02, 2015 News