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Blood Oranges: All Your Questions, Answered

Blood Oranges: All Your Questions, Answered
Magryt_Artur /Depositphotos

Let’s dish about everyone’s new favorite citrus fruit: the blood orange.

Foodies everywhere are falling head over heels for these vibrant, crimson-hued fruits that tantalize taste buds and ignite the imagination.

With their unique flavor and stunning color, blood oranges have become a must-have ingredient for dishes both savory and sweet. But what makes them stand out from your everyday navel oranges?

Get ready for an in-depth exploration of the enchanting world of blood oranges. We’ll uncover all the juicy details and answer any pressing questions you may have.

What Do Blood Oranges Taste Like?

So, what does a blood orange taste like?

To make a long story short, we have two words for you: raspberry orange.

Seriously, if you’ve never experienced the joy of sinking your teeth into a blood orange, get ready for a sensation like no other. That first bite is a delightful revelation that will awaken your taste buds and leave you craving for more.

The vibrant, ruby-red flesh of blood oranges immediately hints at characteristic blood orange taste that lies within.

These crimson-colored citrus fruits are a delightful surprise for your taste buds, combining sweet and tart notes with a hint of berry-like undertones. Imagine the familiar tang of a navel orange—but with a unique, raspberry-like twist that sets them apart from regular oranges.

The deep color comes from anthocyanins, a group of natural pigments commonly found in berries.1Rapisarda, P., Amenta, M., Ballistreri, G., Fabroni, S., & Timpanaro, N. (2022). Distribution, Antioxidant Capacity, Bioavailability and Biological Properties of Anthocyanin Pigments in Blood Oranges and Other Citrus Species. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)27(24), 8675. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules272486752Rapisarda, P., Bellomo, S.E., & Intrigliolo, F. (2001). Anthocyanins in blood oranges: Composition and biological activity.

This infusion of color not only makes for a visually striking fruit but also contributes to its complex flavor profile. It’s a delicate balance of sweet citrus with a subtle tanginess.

Do Blood Oranges Have Seeds?

When it comes to the world of blood oranges, the question of seeds often comes up.

The good news is, if you’re getting blood oranges from your local grocery store or farmer’s market, you’ll likely find varieties with fewer seeds or even seedless options. This makes them a convenient choice for those looking for low-seed or no-seed citrus fruits.

Commercial blood orange cultivars have been carefully bred to minimize seed content while maximizing the juicy flesh. These specially selected varieties undergo meticulous cultivation techniques to enhance their appeal and reduce the presence of bothersome seeds.

However, if you’re an adventurous food lover with a green thumb, you might be tempted to grow your own blood orange tree from a seed. In that case, it’s important to note that the fruit produced by these homegrown trees is likely to contain seeds.

Growing blood oranges from seeds can result in variations in fruit characteristics, including the number of seeds. While it may require time and patience to nurture your tree from a seed, the reward of harvesting your very own homegrown blood oranges can be truly gratifying… seeds and all.

Are Blood Oranges Naturally Occuring?

The irresistible allure of blood oranges may have you pondering their origins.

Well, rest assured, blood oranges are a true gift of nature, though their exact genesis remains a topic of lively discussion among citrus aficionados and researchers.

It’s widely believed that centuries ago, in 17th-century Sicily, a perfect blend of favorable climate and genetic mutations set the stage for the birth of blood oranges.3American Society of Plant Biologists (2012, March 16). Solved: The mystery of the blood orange. ErurekAlert! Retrieved May 8, 2023, from https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/637010

The mesmerizing pigmentation of their flesh, displaying vibrant shades of red and purple, owes its existence to the presence of anthocyanins — natural pigments that develop under specific conditions.

Temperature fluctuations and ample sunlight during the fruit’s growth period play a crucial role in this breathtaking transformation.4Carmona, L., Alquézar, B., Marques, V. V., & Peña, L. (2017). Anthocyanin biosynthesis and accumulation in blood oranges during postharvest storage at different low temperatures. Food chemistry237, 7–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.05.076 Today, various blood orange varieties thrive in different corners of the globe, including Italy, Spain, the United States, and other citrus-rich regions.

What Blood Orange Varieties Are There?

Each blood orange variety possesses its own remarkable combination of flavors, hues, and characteristics, adding to the irresistible charm and versatility of these citrus gems.

Moro Blood Oranges

One standout among blood oranges is the Moro variety, with its luscious deep red flesh and a tantalizing fusion of sweet and tart flavors.

During the winter months, the Moro reigns supreme, enchanting taste buds with its berry-like richness and citrusy undertones. Whether enjoyed fresh, juiced, or infused into sumptuous desserts, its vibrant color and intense flavor make it a cherished favorite among chefs and home cooks alike.

Tarocco Blood Orange

Another notable contender is the Tarocco blood orange, often hailed as the “Queen of Blood Oranges.”

Its perfect harmony of sweetness and acidity delivers a refreshing juiciness and a uniquely sweet taste with subtle hints of raspberry. Encased within an appealing deep orange rind, the Tarocco’s flesh ranges from pale pink to vivid red, making it an exquisite visual and culinary delight.

Other Varieties

But wait, there’s more!

The Sanguinello, Sanguinelli, Ruby, and other blood orange varieties also shine with their own exceptional attributes, diverse flavors, and striking pigmentation.

Exploring the world of blood oranges unveils a cornucopia of taste sensations and visual delights, allowing you to discover your personal favorite among the abundance of choices available.

How to Store Blood Oranges

Should You Store Blood Oranges at Room Temperature of in the Fridge?

When it comes to storing blood oranges, you have a couple of options:

For short-term storage, let them hang out at room temperature for a few days to fully ripen and develop their delicious flavors.

But if you want to prolong their shelf life, it’s best to pop them in the fridge. Place them in a mesh or perforated plastic bag to allow air circulation, then tuck them away in the crisper drawer. This helps maintain their moisture and prevents them from drying out.

Wrap leftover sliced blood oranges in plastic wrap and refrigerate them. Don’t use aluminum foil as the slices will get tainted with the flavor of aluminum. Remember that sliced blood oranges are not a type of food that keeps well, so the sooner you eat them, the better.

Can You Peel Blood Oranges Ahead of Time?

As tempting as it may be to peel those juicy blood oranges ahead of time for quick snacking or recipe prep, it’s actually better to keep them whole until you’re ready to indulge.

Once peeled, blood oranges can lose their juiciness and vibrant flavor rather quickly. So, hold off on peeling until you’re ready to relish their refreshing taste and admire their beautiful color.

Can You Freeze Blood Oranges?

If you find yourself with an abundance of blood oranges, fear not! Freezing is a fantastic way to preserve their delightful flavor for future use.

Juice the blood oranges and pour the juice into an airtight container or ice cube trays. Frozen blood orange juice is a versatile ingredient that can be used in smoothies, cocktails, or even transformed into refreshing ice pops for those sizzling summer days.

Bottom Line

Blood oranges don’t taste like other oranges do. While they have the usual citrus notes and sweet flavors, they also have a tangy, forest-fruit hint of raspberry.

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Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.

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