As icy January grabs Saddle Mountain Hostel by the throat, there is a feeling of hope in the air. Spring must be coming because blood oranges have returned!
In case you don’t know, blood oranges are a small and deliciously sweet variety of orange which is often tinged with flecks of red, hence the name. They come almost exclusively from Sicily and they usually appear in the shops in mid January, disappearing some time in April.
The taste is unlike any other type of orange variety, somehow sweeter and tangier at the same time. The look is hypnotically beautiful – when cut in half they are usually a variegated mix of orange and red.
From our point of view the fact that they come from Sicily is a wonderful bonus. If you have read our blogs before then you will know that it is one of our favourite places, not least for its food. Go to Sicily for its seafood, its pasta and pizza, its gelato, cannoli and arancini, its wine and coffee. Above all, go for its profuse fruit and vegetables. Because it is Italy, the names of the various varieties of blood orange which are in season during its window of availability sing: Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco.
We have been buying blood oranges for well over 25 years, and each New Year brings eager anticipation of the day when they will appear in the shops. That time has now arrived in 2017. In this day and age it is a very unusual thing for a fruit to have a “season”. These days you can buy oranges, apples and bananas from somewhere in the globe at any time of year. They may not be entirely fresh because of the distance they have had to travel to reach the UK, but they are there on the shelves.
Blood oranges are a glorious exception. They are here for four months if you are lucky and then they are gone until the next year. In an era of instant gratification that is something special. The feeling of anticipation makes them taste all the better when they eventually arrive. And as we eat our way through the year’s crop the days get longer and the sun gets hotter in the sky. By the time the season is over Spring has actually arrived.
So the next time you go shopping look out for the humble blood orange – but leave some for us!