About Blood Oranges
So you are after the low down on blood oranges? Trying to figure out what this fruit with so much mystique surrounding it? You have come to the right place.
Blood Oranges are one of the most versatile Citrus fruits currently available, they can be used as a substitute for most Citrus varieties including Orange, Lemon and Lime and also works well in combination with all Citrus varieties.
Essentially, the blood orange is an orange that has one important characteristic, it has a crimson-red pigment to its flesh as well as it’s rind. How this was first discovered is still a contentious issue, historically the blood orange has been depicted in a number of artworks from ancient Chinese drawings however the Italians from southern Italy and especially Sicily are the ones credited for developing blood oranges from a humble piece of fruit to a icon of the Mediterranean lifestyle. The blood orange has been cultivated in Italy for centuries and current production levels still outmatch any producer in the world.
The blood orange actually represents a number of strains around the world, most notibly the Sanguinello, Tarocco and the Moro. In Australia we are limited to the strains available with our industry targeting the most popular and intense coloured varieties found world wide as well as a few of our own selections which prove to be popular. The most common found in Australia at the moment is the Arnold blood orange which is contentially debated as being part of the Moro family. It has the highest levels of pigmentation found in the Australian varieties and most reliable in producing coloured fruit. Quite recently, the Australian industry has also imported a select number of key Tarocco types which are famous for their large fruit size as well as incredible flavours, they have also been selected to enhance the length of the blood orange season to provide consumers a greater window of supply of these amazing fruits.
This crimson-red pigment so adored in the blood orange comes from the blood oranges unique ability to produce Anthocyanins which is extremely rare for Citrus fruits. Anthocyanin, most commonly found in berries such as the blueberry, flowering plants and red wine (derived from red grapes) is one of the most powerful phyto-chemicals known in the plant kingdom. This group phyto-chemical’s are known for their potent antioxidant capability, being some 150 times more powerful than Vitamin C alone and along with their ability to be beneficial in so many parts of health we have decided to call this specialty VitaminRED.
Growing blood oranges are easier said than done. The reason why we don’t see blood oranges year-round is partly due to the degree of difficulty in growing them. To deliver a true blood orange, we need to have the right environmental conditions to help build the levels of anthocyanins. Half the battle is growing them in the right temperament, in a lattitude that provides harsh, dry and hot summers as well as cool, nippy winters. The next issue is to then choose a suitable location that will provide maximum temperature differential during autumn. What this basically mean’s is that to grow blood oranges successfully and to their fullest potential, they need to be grown in a location that will provide almost freezing night temperatures as well as high day temperatures. In a technical standpoint, the stress the tree endures during this weather process forces the tree to develop the much needed anthocyanins. Not many places that are suitable for Citrus meet this quality to produce the highest quality blood oranges.
Not to be confused with another up-and-coming Navel variety, the blood orange is distinctly different in heritage, appearance, taste and sophistication. As mentioned above, blood oranges lend their extraordinary colour and taste to a group of plant phyto-chemical and antioxidants, Anthocyanin’s. These proven health enhancers are significantly different from pigmented Navel varieties that are being marketed and sometimes mistaken for blood oranges. Pigmented Navels such as the Cara Cara navel which is said to be of Washington Navel parentage originating from Venezuela get their unique characteristic from Lycopene which is usually found in fruits such as Watermelon and Tomatoes and although they are good for you, like all fruits are, don’t provide the depth of flavour, appearance and health benefits a blood orange can.
Redbelly Citrus along are the only blood oranges producers in Australia dedicated to the production and supply of the highest quality blood oranges. Grown in the fertile soils of the Riverina, we have the ability to match the environmental conditions of the much revered Sicilian blood orange and have the drive and determination to lead the way when it comes to blood oranges and blood orange products.