Winter menus can start to seem a little bit–well, beige–and then boom! Blood oranges are in season, and everything’s okay again. “Blood oranges are known as the ‘chef’s orange,’” says Robert Schueller, Director of Public Relations for Melissa’s Produce and “Produce Guru” for Cooking Light magazine.
“In the way that Meyer lemons are the preferred choice in many kitchens, so are blood oranges,” he says. “Chefs like to cook with them, because even though they are less sweet than other oranges, they are less acidic too, so that gives them a smooth taste.” Because they’re a variety of navel orange, they’re easy to peel, so easy prep is yet another reason for their popularity in professional kitchens.
Redder every day
Schueller says that at the start of the season, which is November for the California-grown oranges, the flesh is an orange-ish-red, but by the end of the season in May, it’s a deeply hued magenta, which makes it a dramatic ingredient for cocktails, dressings, ice creams/sorbets and more. The most popular variety of blood orange is Moro, and it has become something of an Instagram darling.
“You can use them anywhere you would use lemons or limes,” Schueller says. He’s very fond of them as part of a fresh-flavored beverage program: “They’re especially great in cocktails and Sangria.”