A brightly-hued seasonal citrus fruit
As the name suggests, 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—but 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 for breakfast.
“Another thing I like about them is the fact that they are one of the things we sell that 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. I always associate them with this time of the year.”
The blood orange is a particularly versatile citrus fruit: not only are they great for waking you up in the morning, but you can cook with them as well. Their tart flavour and rich colours mean blood oranges have also been a favourite ingredient in the kitchen with several Borough Market chefs for both their decorative attributes, as well as their unique flavour.
Lesley Holdship uses blood oranges in blushing beurre blanc with steamed sea bass; Celia Brooks likes them in a winter salad of ray silo, blood orange and pistachios; while Jenny Chandler utilises the juice and zest in a hollandaise-like, maltaise sauce—the perfect accompaniment to seasonal teamed 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 and blood orange crumble,” he enthuses. “Separate the orange into segments and place them in among the rhubarb—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. Because of the colour they really stand out and give the salad that extra edge. They are very versatile—if you look around there are lots of recipes to get your imagination going.”