The season for blood oranges starts in earnest in January. We source ours from around Mount Etna in Sicily, where they hold a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). In order to blush, growers need warm days and cold nights - the temperature needs to drop a few degrees below zero for at least an hour in order to produce the anthocyanin pigment which turns them red.
Moro is the variety with the darkest colouring, in season during January and February.
Tarocco comes into season a little earlier, and has a lighter colour and complex flavour. These are highly prized in Italy.
Sanguinello are in season later, from March to May. These are also grown in Spain, especially in the area around Valencia.
Our buyer Tess says: “The Moro blood oranges are used in Italy and elsewhere in juicing, cocktails, and some cooking for colour and decoration as they have quite a sharp taste, the colour comes from the presence of an antioxidant pigment that develops with cold at night, but the Tarocco being sweeter can be used in the traditional Sicilian Salad made with the orange slices, sweet onion, olive oil, salt and pepper; it is usually used before a desert or in long meals with many courses in between the courses to aid digestion. In times past it was more common to pair oranges with a savoury dish than it is today.” Find out more here and here.