There are many varieties of oranges, but the blood orange, a natural hybrid mutation, has got to be the most unique. With it's distinctive flavors and dark red flesh it is loaded with the powerful antioxidant, carotene.
Carotene is part of the anthocyanins family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. What’s also interesting, is that the other orange varieties get their pink/reddish pigmentation from lycopene, not anthocyanins. Did you know that anthocyanin pigment is common in a variety of fruits and vegetables that contain a red, purple, and blue color such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, red cabbage and eggplant? So, you could say, the blood orange is special because it's the only citrus fruit to contain antioxidants.
Everyone knows chlorophyll is what gives leaves their bright, green color throughout the year. A little known fact is that leaves also contain the pigment or antioxidant, carotene. As you guessed it, that orangish / red color from the carotene comes out in the fall when the tree stops photosynthesis for the year due to the days getting shorter.
Carotene is also what gives items like carrots and egg yolks their orange color. Ever had a farm egg? Did you notice if the yolk was really orange? Orange yolks are the result of chickens eating a different diet, more food with high carotene content - that's it. There's no flavor difference, just the color difference, and the added benefit of the antioxidant, carotene.
Who knew leaves, carrots, blood oranges, and eggs all have something in common? Varying levels of the pigment carotene.
According to the Grappler Gourmet, blood oranges need to be paired with food because they have an amazing, unique tart taste.
Blood oranges have less acid than all the other varieties of oranges, so if acid is a problem for you, try a blood orange. In addition to having less acid, blood oranges have a slight unexpected raspberry flavor.
Blood oranges have folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9, which helps fight cancer and heart disease. Eating one medium-sized blood orange will provide a full day's supply of vitamin-C.
When purchasing blood oranges, look for the ones which are small to medium sized. Pick them up, too. Look for one that's firm, plump, and appears to be much heavier that it looks. This means it's loaded with juice.
The three varieties of blood oranges grown in the US are Moro, Tarocco, and Sanguinelli.
The Moro blood orange is the most common variety produced and marketed in the United States. The Tarocco blood orange does not develop much red color on the rind, and its flesh is not as brilliant as the Moro. The Tarocco is said to have the best flavor out of all three main varieties of blood orange, tasting very sweet with a hint of raspberry. The Sanguinelli blood orange has the darkest red rind out of the three main varieties.
Most blood oranges grown in the US come from California and Texas because blood oranges need cool nights for proper anthocyanin development, they cannot tolerate frost and freezing temperatures.
With all this good stuff about blood oranges, it's pointed out by the US Agriculture Marketing Resource Center, that the gruesome name, "blood orange" does increase reluctance for consumers to try it. So, although the blood orange is special, it’s got a bad reputation.
What can be done? With all the benefits, just forget the name and have a bloody orange!