What the Heck Is A Blood Orange?

Description: The exterior of this dramatically named citrus fruit looks similar to the more common navel and Valencia oranges, albeit smaller and sometimes with blood-red flecks. The skin is also a bit tougher to peel. The blood orange’s dark-pink, maroon, or even crimson interior is starkly different to that of any other orange; the “bloody” color comes via anthocyanin, a pigment found in some plants. Anthocyanin is purported to have many health benefits: It’s a powerful antioxidant that supposedly can slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells—or even kill them. Blood oranges also contain high amounts of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, iron, calcium, and fiber.

Flavor Profile: The tartest of all oranges, the blood orange has a slight berry-like flavor. 

Origins: Some are grown in California and Texas, but most blood oranges come from Mediterranean countries (Southern Italy in particular). The most popular varieties, all originating from the hilly areas and plains surrounding Mount Etna in Sicily, are the dark-fleshed Moro, the delicately flavored Tarocco, and the Sanguinello (or Sanguigno). 

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How to Use: Blood oranges are best eaten out of hand, in salads, or to flavor marmalade or sorbet. They are considered by many to be among the finest dessert oranges.

Storage: It’s preferable to refrigerate blood oranges — they’ll only last a few days at room temperature but up to two weeks in the fridge.

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