Pretty pastel salmon pink blood orange curd is so easy to make in the microwave, and ideal for using blood oranges during their all too short season. Also why are blood oranges red? And all about the classic British street market!
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 accompanied by fresh blood orange curd on toast greeting you at breakfast? In the dullest, darkest days of the year the prospect is enough to encourage me out of bed.
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.
A Note on The British Street Market
The classic British street market is a very different affair from the traditional farmers or CSA market (here in the UK most people will think of the controversial Child Support Agency, designed to ensure absent parents pay maintenance for their children rather than community supported agriculture).
In my local street market temporary stalls line the road piled high with affordable fruit and vegetables. Most is sold by the scoop, or metal mixing bowl at £1 a go. The size of the bowl, and the quality vary according to what is in season.
This is not organic heirloom produce, but basics for an affordable price. It is hard backbreaking work, and most of the stalls are family run – typically the women behind serving, plonking the product into bags and taking your money, and the men lugging heavy trays of fruit and veg from their vans to the stall where it is measured out. If you have not experienced the street traders cry of “lovely ‘nanas – pound a scoop” it can be hard to decipher it the first time you hear it.
I love my market, but do not envy the job – the being out in all weathers, the early starts to the wholesalers and the sheer hard work. I think it is important to support them they are a vital resource and source of affordable food for the low income families in the area – far better to shop there and cook from scratch than rely on cheap convenience foods.
How do blood oranges get their colour?
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 these are Sanguinellos, sweet, nearly seedless and with a flesh that is streaked. Moros are the most colourful and flavoursome.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (115g)
- zest of 3 blood oranges (finely grated)
- 1 cup blood orange juice (240 ml)
- 1&1/3 cups caster sugar (260g)
- 3 eggs (beaten)
Place all the ingredients, apart from the gin, into a microwave safe bowl and cook on full power for 6 minutes.
Whisk thoroughly after every minute of cooking time until the curd has thickened - and will thickly coat the back of a spoon.
Strain through a sieve into small sterilised jars. Seal.
- The curd will keep in the fridge for up to one month or freeze well.
- It is much easier to zest the oranges before you juice them.
- To get more juice from the oranges roll them on the worktop before squeezing, under the heel of your hand with a medium pressure.
If blood oranges are currently out of season then try my microwave lemon curd with gin recipe
Recipe originally published January 2011