Beautiful blood oranges are in season for a scant few weeks at the start of the New Year. I think that their vivid coloured beauty is perfect for the season, and is uplifting, a contrast for grey austere January; when Christmas feasting is a memory and healthy resolutions have been put in place. How can you fail to smile and be cheered by a glass of bright crimson orange juice greeting you at breakfast?
The season is short, and availability is patchy, so far this year I have only found them twice. Joyfully I have just returned from the market with another haul. Most stalls did not have any, “The price has gone up! 3 weeks ago they were £3 a box now they are £11” I was told. Or “Sorry, ‘Girlfriend’ we can’t get them”. Feeling slightly disillusioned, and resigned to waiting another few days I discovered that the last stall had them! 9 glorious blood oranges for £1. I bought 2 bowls full.
Blood oranges get their crimson flesh from the presence of Anthocyanins, a pigment common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus. There are 3 main varieties, Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello. I am fairly sure that mine are Sanguinellos, sweet, nearly seedless and with a flesh that is streaked. Moros are the most colourful and flavoursome.
I learnt to make a microwave lemon curd before Christmas, and adapted the recipe to use my blood oranges. The result is a pretty salmon pink curd, paler than I had anticipated (I need those darker Moros), both sweet and tart, silky in texture and delicated flavoured.
Blood Orange Curd (makes 3 x 8oz jars and a little over)
110g / 4oz unsalted butter
Juice of 3 blood oranges
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
330g (12oz) caster sugar
4 eggs – beaten
Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a microwavable bowl with the lemon rind and juice. Place in microwave and heat for at 850 watts
Stir in the sugar and cook for 3.5 mins at 850 watts. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved and beat in the eggs
Cook for a further 6 mins at 600 watts, whisking thoroughly after every minute until the curd has thickened; when done it will coat the back of a spoon.
Strain into small sterilised jars. Seal.
The curd will keep in the fridge for up to one month.