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Floral Blood Oranges

I seem to have an obsession with blood oranges this year.  The California season typically runs from December to May with the height of the blood orange season right now!  It just doesn’t get any better than this.  The deep dark color, the intense floral fragrance and berry flavor keep me coming back for more.  They are great in mimosas, add them to an arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette, pair them with roasted beets and sliced avocado or just slice them up on their own, but be careful not to get the red juice on your clothes.

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The red flesh color varies in intensity depending on the variety, location where the trees are grown and the degree of fruit maturity.   Brought to America in the 1930’s by Italian and Spanish immigrants they are now grown commercially in Southern California, Texas and Florida.  Hot days and cold nights are needed to bring out the best flavors in blood oranges.

At the beginning of the season the flesh will have a slight red tinge to it with a sweet and tart flavor.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, citrus picked early in the harvest will not have developed their full flavor.   I have noticed that after a month or two of eating blood oranges the flesh has become super sweet and turning that deep red almost purple color with a floral fragrance that just blows me away.  It is still not known exactly why the insides turn red but it could be because blood oranges contain anthocyanins , a family of pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits.

The Moro variety is the most commonly found in the supermarket because it develops the most consistent red flesh color when it at its peak flavor. The red blush on the outside of the fruit is because of the sun and not related to the red color of the flesh.  Fruit that is exposed more to the sun on one part of the tree will have more of a blush color on the skin which will become darker later in the season if left on the tree longer.

Blood oranges are packed with vitamin C, carotenoids and are high in potent antioxidant properties.  Choose a blood orange the same as you would any citrus, look for the heaviest fruit which means more juice.  If you feeling adventurous, place slices of blood orange on a plate and top with dates and goat cheese drizzled with sherry vinegar and olive oil.  However you enjoy your blood oranges remember to try them now when they are at their best!

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