Blood Oranges

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An ode to blood oranges and a list of links to wonderful blood orange recipes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Those of you who love blood oranges don’t need to be told how exquisitely wonderful they are. In the kingdom of citrus, blood oranges are royalty. You know that every bite is an explosion of sweet, deep orange flavor, with hints of raspberry.

I wish there were more of you, then growers would grow more, and blood oranges would be easier for everyone to get their hands on.

The problem is, I’m convinced, the name. “Blood” oranges. The shock of cutting into a blood orange for the first time and not seeing the familiar orange, but vivid garnet red, which if perfectly ripe drips its blood colored juices everywhere, is just too much for many of us. It looks like blood. Why in the world would we want to eat a fruit that reminds us of blood?

If however, the marketing powers that be renamed the blood orange “Sangria Orange”, then there would be no issue. Sangria comes from the word “sangre” which means “blood” in Spanish, but most English speakers don’t know that; to most of us sangria is simply a red wine drink spiced with oranges. Instead of conjuring up images of some poor animal freshly slaughtered we would think happy thoughts of festive Sangria. We would imagine this orange to be the color of red wine, not blood. Renaming a fruit has been done before. Some marketing board in New Zealand came up with the idea of promoting Chinese gooseberries as kiwifruit. And now kiwifruit are so popular around the world the word kiwi is even a color, kiwi green.

We have a blood orange tree that my parents planted 5 years ago and is now this year, for the first time, bearing fruit. The tree is heavy with blood oranges. I’ve been experimenting with them a little, making salads, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least for the blood oranges from our tree, the best way to eat them is just to eat them. Slice them, peel on, and eat them. The flavor is so good, they just don’t need a thing.

If you’ve never had a blood orange, or have shied away from them because of the name, think “Sangria” and get yourself to a store that carries them like Whole Foods. You will be delighted by them.

If you are interested in what kinds of recipes would work with blood oranges, check out the following from other food bloggers:

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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  1. Nadejda

    Hahaha, I love the idea of Sangria Oranges! HornCologne is right, Europeans think differently of food. Our French exchange student in a game in her ASL class was to come up with names for food items starting with random letters. She said, first thing that came to her mind for F was frog, S – snail, H – horse… You can imagine the uproar in the class.

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Helen Newtown

    I just bought a Bag of these Oranges from my Local Walmart, so any of you looking for them, can find them there. They are Juicy and sweet, and I am thinking would be great in a Sangria…YUM…looking up recipes now.

  3. Brian

    I just had a ten lb box of tarocco blood oranges shipped to me in d.c.. They are so fresh compared to the whole foods ones. I made scallops with a blood orange gastrique, a blood orange, tarragon, mint, parsley salad and a blood orange pannacotta with and still have half a box left. Check out local harvest website. That’s where I found them

  4. JTj

    My mother has a blood orange tree that produces the best oranges ever! So I planted one and the oranges it produces is not very good! I have no idea why, but the oranges are sweet but have no other flavor. Not a hint of citrus. If you were in a blind-fold taste test, you would not guess it was a citrus fruit.

    Any one out there have a clue why?

    Blood oranges come in different varieties. Some are much better tasting than others. It sounds like perhaps you planted a variety that isn’t the tastiest. ~Elise

  5. Belinda

    Just an FYI – Kroger and Meijer both have carried blood oranges for years.

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Blood Oranges