Raspberry oranges, also known as blood oranges, are a type of citrus fruit that have a crimson, almost blood-colored flesh. They are not to be confused with cara cara oranges or vainiglia sanguignos, which have a similar color but a different pigment. Raspberry oranges have anthocyanins, a family of antioxidants that give them their distinctive hue and health benefits.
Raspberry oranges have a unique flavor compared to other oranges, being distinctly raspberry-like in addition to the usual citrus notes. They are sweeter and less acidic than regular oranges, but also more tart and complex. They are perfect for adding a burst of color and flavor to salads, desserts, drinks, and more.
In this ultimate guide, we will cover everything you need to know about raspberry oranges, including:
- The history and origin of raspberry oranges
- The different varieties of raspberry oranges
- The nutritional benefits of raspberry oranges
- How to select, store, and prepare raspberry oranges
- Some delicious recipes using raspberry oranges
The History and Origin of Raspberry Oranges
Raspberry oranges are a natural mutation of the orange, which is itself a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. They originated in the southern Mediterranean region, most likely in Sicily or Spain, in the 18th century. They were first introduced to the United States in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants.
The name “raspberry orange” comes from the resemblance of the fruit’s flesh to that of raspberries. However, they are also known as blood oranges because of their dark red color. In some languages, they are called “red oranges” or “pigmented oranges”.
The color of raspberry oranges is influenced by the temperature and climate where they grow. The anthocyanin pigments develop when the fruit is exposed to cold nights and warm days during the ripening process. This creates a contrast between the bright orange peel and the dark red flesh.
The Different Varieties of Raspberry Oranges
There are three main types of raspberry oranges: Tarocco, Moro, and Sanguinello. Each one has its own characteristics and flavor profile.
The Tarocco is the most popular variety of raspberry orange in Italy, where it is native. It is also known as the “half-blood orange” because its flesh is not as dark as the other types. It has a thin, smooth peel that is easy to peel. It has a sweet, juicy, and aromatic flesh that is low in seeds. It is considered the most flavorful and refined of all the raspberry oranges.
The Moro is the darkest and most colorful of all the raspberry oranges, with a deep red flesh and a rind with a bright red blush. It has a thicker, rougher peel that is harder to peel. It has a strong, tangy, and slightly bitter flavor with a hint of raspberry. It is the most widely available variety of raspberry orange in the United States.
The Sanguinello is native to Spain, where it is also known as the “blood orange”. It has a medium-red flesh and a rind that ranges from orange to red. It has a thin, smooth peel that is easy to peel. It has a sweet, juicy, and slightly acidic flesh that is high in seeds. It has a more balanced flavor than the Moro.
The Nutritional Benefits of Raspberry Oranges
Raspberry oranges are not only delicious but also nutritious. They are rich in vitamin C, which supports immune system health and collagen production. They also contain folate, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.
One medium raspberry orange (about 154 grams) provides:
- Calories: 80
- Carbohydrates: 19 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 15 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Vitamin C: 120% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 15% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
The anthocyanins in raspberry oranges are responsible for their red color and their antioxidant properties. Anthocyanins are plant compounds that protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. They may also have anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, and anti-microbial effects.
Some studies have shown that consuming raspberry oranges may lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, reduce cholesterol levels, and prevent blood clots. They may also protect against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
How to Select, Store, and Prepare Raspberry Oranges
Raspberry oranges are in season from December to May, depending on the variety and the region. They are best enjoyed fresh, but they can also be juiced, cooked, or preserved.
When selecting raspberry oranges, look for fruits that are firm, heavy, and free of bruises or blemishes. The color of the peel is not a reliable indicator of the quality or ripeness of the fruit, as it may vary depending on the temperature and exposure to sunlight. The best way to tell if a raspberry orange is ripe is to smell it. It should have a fragrant and sweet aroma.