I have been waiting and waiting for the coming spring produce. As I have not yet been satisfied, I thought I’d write about one of my favourite seasonal citrus: blood oranges. You’ll find locally grown fruit at market at present. You’ll also find the fruit grown in other parts of the country at some of the bigger retailers. Always look for Australian grown citrus. Our Aussie farmers need you, the citrus farming industry has been very hard on people over the years, give them a break.
Blood orange juice is great. My favourite citrus man at the Capital Region Farmers Market always has the goods in the juice department. During blood orange season you need to get to market early for a container of his famous blood orange juice. It’s amazing as is, or with mixed with soda water for a wonderfully refreshing drink. It’s divine in cocktails: blood orange bellini anyone? You could mix a great cocktail with a shot of Grand Marnier in equal parts blood orange juice, sparkling water and ginger ale. Or you could keep it simple with some soda water, vodka and a sprig of mint.
Blood oranges come with different acidity and colour depending on the variety, season and temperature on the farm. I understand the blood red flecks in the orange flesh develop late in the life of the orange, when they experience a frost or cold temperatures. I have had blood oranges with more acid than a regular orange, or with virtually no acid all. But I find they all have a slight caramel or toffee flavour on palate.
Blood orange is great in salad. You can peel and segment the fruit, drizzle it with olive oil, add a pinch of salt and toss it with rocket and a fresh cheese like labne or feta for an incredible workday lunch. It’s nice to play with the caramel flavours a bit too. This week, I want to chargrill cheeks and thick slices of blood orange in a searing hot pan. I don’t want to make the blood orange soft, but just give them some good grill marks. You can do the same thing on a hot BBQ. The trick will be to brush the slices with oil first, to stop them sticking to the grill. I’ll coat some well-seasoned chicken or prawns in smoked sweet paprika before being barbequed or chargrilled and serve the whole lot on a nice platter, atop some fresh rocket or baby spinach with a generous drizzle of good quality olive oil. Maybe I’ll add some avocado. I can’t wait.
There are some great options for blood orange desserts. One year I made a spiced blood orange tart for my Dad for Father’s Day. It was creamy with just a hint of spice and had a lovely little brulee topping. But my favourite blood orange dessert by far has to be my blood orange pavlova roll. This beauty is filled with home-made blood orange curd, topped with lightly whipped cream and segments of beautiful fresh blood orange. Buy yourself some extra eggs at the market this weekend, with a bag of blood oranges, you’ve got yourself a winner.