Blood Oranges, with their distinct crimson colour and sweet juicy flavour, are now in season, through to the end of November. To celebrate the first pick of the 2016 Blood Orange crop, third generation citrus farmers, Redbelly Citrus, hosted a feast of the season’s finest at Lucio’s in Paddington, purely to demonstrate the many uses for this delicious fruit in cooking.
From an entrée of kingfish fennel and olives with blood orange dressing, a main of roast duck marinated with blood orange and served with a blood orange sauce to a chocolate cannoli filled with blood orange mousse, this versatile fruit has no boundaries when it comes to a chef’s imagination.
Redbelly blood oranges are grown in Australia’s Riverina, located in Southern New South Wales, where the day and night temperatures match almost exactly the climate of the best blood orange growing regions of Sicily. Redbelly blood oranges have a distinct flavour that is reminiscent of the Sicilian blood oranges, more so than blood oranges grown in other regions of Australia.
“Blood oranges are a fantastic fruit to cook with and mix with. You’ll notice a strong citrus base flavour with distinct raspberry notes. There’s a lot to play around with, which makes for good fun in the bar and in the kitchen,” said Len Mancini, co-founder and Director at Redbelly Citrus, Australia’s premium producer of blood oranges. “Not only are they packed full of flavour, but their rich crimson colour looks incredible whether you blend, mix, squeeze or slice them. You can use them in any recipe that calls for regular oranges as well. We want mixologists, chefs and home cooks to get inspired with a fruit not commonly on the menu or shopping list and experiment with the exquisite flavour.”
Boasting many health benefits, blood oranges trump their citrus cousins and superfood competitors as they are better tasting, better looking and full of goodness. Packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C, their distinct deep crimson colour is a result of the anthocyanins produced in the flesh of the fruit. These anthocyanins have been found to reduce the impacts of modern life and improve health.
With blood oranges available from late July through to the end of November, look out for fruit with an even blush of colour on the skin to indicate a vibrant red when cut open.
Redbelly blood oranges are available at most independent grocers, fruit stores and fresh fruit markets. They are softer to the touch than navel oranges, which means they are full of juice. Smaller blood oranges are more likely to be red right through and larger fruit will have opal-like variations between orange and red. Store in the fridge to maintain freshness and the cold will actually help develop the internal colour over a couple of weeks.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond