Paul Wheeler of the eponymous greengrocers on making the most of the blood orange season
Blood oranges are a little different from the oranges we are used to. Cut them open and instead of the usual orange flesh to match their brightly-hued skin, you’ll find segments ranging from deep pink, to ruby red.
“In terms of flavour they are not quite as sweet as normal oranges. The sweetness that you expect from an orange is there, but they have a slightly tart edge to them which makes them really refreshing—though they’re not as sharp as a grapefruit,” says Paul Wheeler of Paul Wheeler Fresh Supplies, whose favourite thing to do with this seasonal fruit is juice them on Sunday mornings with breakfast.
“Another thing I like about them is the fact that they are truly seasonal,” he continues. “They arrive in December—so they’re nice when you want something a bit different from all the rich food about at that time of year—and are around until about April.”
Tart flavour, rich colours
The blood orange is a particularly versatile citrus fruit: not only is it great for waking you up in the morning, but you can cook with it as well. Their tart flavour and rich colours mean they’re a favourite ingredient of several Borough Market chefs: Lesley Holdship uses blood oranges in blushing beurre blanc with steamed sea bass, Tom Hunt combines the juice with prosecco, in a twist on the classic mimosa (and uses the rinds to make marmalade), while Jenny Chandler utilises the juice and zest in a hollandaise-like maltaise sauce—the perfect accompaniment to steamed or griddled purple sprouting broccoli.
And not all the blood oranges that make it to the Wheeler household end up in the juicer. “They are really good in a forced rhubarb crumble,” he enthuses. “Separate the orange into segments and place them in among the crumble—they give a really nice burst of extra flavour when you come across them. Another thing we do is throw some in when we are making a salad. If you look around, there are lots of recipes to get your imagination going.”