A blood orange is a dark orange to red citrus fruit that has been popular for many years in Europe and has gained in popularity elsewhere. The exterior of the orange is a rose-tinted orange color, although depending on the variety, it might be lighter or darker. The surprise comes when someone cuts open the orange to reveal its pink to dark crimson flesh.
There are three varieties of these oranges: the Tarocco, the Sanguinello and the Moro. Of these, the Tarocco has the greatest popularity in Europe and is grown primarily in Italy. It might not always have the darkest red coloring, however, and some resemble more traditional oranges. In taste, however, this variety is often considered superior to the other.
The Sanguinello is grown in Spain and is almost seedless. It tends to have a deeper red color. The Moro is most commonly grown in the United States and tends to have the darkest flesh. If a cook is really going for that deep crimson in juices or dishes prepared with a blood orange, the Moro might be the best choice.
Pigment Provides Darker Color
The coloring of a blood orange differs from a typical orange because it has an additional pigment called anthocyanin. This pigment can be found in purple and red flowers and other fruits. For example, the Fuji apple and red delicious apple owe their deep red exterior to the presence of anthocyanin.
Taste and Uses
Blood oranges also are celebrated for their taste. A ripe one is very sweet and mellow, and some people say it has subtle flavoring hints of raspberry and strawberry. Other people, however, simply describe the flavor as identical to sweet regular oranges.
These oranges are often used for the color that they provide to a variety of dishes. An salad made with blood and regular oranges can be a beautiful dish. Orange juice made with them is often a dark, strong color and can be used to heighten the drama of a smoothie or a mimosa.
Slices of these oranges can garnish vanilla ice cream or provide an essential ingredient to a fruit salsa. They can also give a distinct color to citrus tarts. Most recipes for these oranges are usually sweet, such as desserts or drinks, but blood oranges also can make excellent garnishes for savory dishes.