I love blood oranges.
That’s a pretty big deal for me, since I’ve had a lifelong aversion to oranges ever since “The Incident” suffered at age seven. Even sitting here recalling the event gives me the willies all over again.
My mom had left my brothers and me in the care of the next door neighbor for the day. At lunchtime, she gave each of us kids a whole orange. I didn’t know what to do with it because my mom had always either peeled our oranges or quartered them so that we could eat the flesh right off the peel. I had no idea how to peel an orange. Everyone else managed to peel and eat theirs, quickly leaving the table to go outside and play . I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I ate my orange. I have no idea how long I sat at that table, but I’m pretty sure it was several hours. I finally got the peel started and picked it off as best I could with my tiny seven year old fingers. Unfortunately, every single bit of pith remained on that orange, so even though it was peeled, it remained encased in a thick layer of inedible grossness. Eating that orange with all that bitter pith made me want to gag. It still does. To this day, I don’t like the taste or smell of an orange. I don’t eat them and I don’t drink orange juice either.
And then something wonderful happened. Last year, my stepmother gave me a jar of her homemade blood orange conserve. It was delicious and such a beautiful, rich maroon color. The blood orange, a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) has a crimson flesh due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. I was intrigued. And hopeful. As a test last fall, I bought a couple of blood oranges and chopped them up into a simple salad with shrimp and avocados. I found them to be delightful and not orange-pithy tasting.
Today I bought several dozen blood oranges, which I will use in several ways. First, I used my micro planer to make zest, which I will dry and store for use in various recipes. I then juiced four of the oranges and, combined with black cherry juice, made a fruit pudding.
Next, I juiced the remaining blood oranges. Some of the juice will be used in a savory reduction for tonight’s dinner (paprika-roasted cauliflower purée and flank steak). The rest will get frozen in ice cube trays and stored in the freezer for later use in my sparkling water, salad dressings and sauces.
I know, it’s not like I peeled and ate an orange today. But hey, working with the juice of a blood orange, it’s a start! And they’re so pretty!
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