Oranges on Fire
Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello: healthy and uniquely Sicilian
The blood orange of Sicily – grown almost exclusively in the southwestern territories of Mount Etna, in the eastern part of the island – is the clearest example of the deep link between quality and environment. The nature of the soil, the great temperature ranges and the abundant sunshine even in winter make these productions an example of an almost unique typicalness in the national fruit production. It looks like the area of origin of the citrus fruits is the East. It is nice to think that citrus fruits reached the West through the Central Asia caravan routes, becoming representative of a direct link between eastern and western people.
- The Moro orange
is a very important old cultivar that opens the season of blood oranges. Ripening begins in December, but the fruits reach the best organoleptic features about a month later. It is typical of Catania and Syracuse provinces and it is a medium-sized fruit with a round or oval shape; the peel is orange with intense wine-red shades on one side; the seedless pulp is deep wine-red and quite tart. The juice has a blood-like coloration due to the presence of pigments (anthocyanin) in the pulp and in the peel. It has a high juice content and a very pleasant taste. The Tarocco orange
is perhaps a bud mutation of the more common Sanguinello. The ripening of the most sun-exposed fruits in the hill citrus orchards begins around mid-December and ends towards the beginning of April. It is a large-sized and round or oval-shaped fruit, with the presence in the most particular oranges of a swelling, called “muso”, resulting from environmental and genetic factors (clones); it has a yellow-orange peel, blushed on over half of the fruit. The seedless pulp has a yellow-orange colour, with some reddish pigmentation, a medium juiciness and an excellent flavour. The Sanguinello orange
has been grown in the provinces of Catania and Syracuse since time immemorial. Together with Sanguinello Moscato, it represents the most important Italian mid-season cultivar, which, after the Moro and the Tarocco continues and closes the blood oranges season. The ripening begins in February, but the harvesting takes place mostly between March and April. The fruits are medium-sized with an oblong or round shape; it has a dark orange or reddish peel. The almost seedless flesh is orange in colour with multiple blood-colour streaks; it is very juicy and has an excellent, fully ripe flavour.
Nutritional properties, production and use
– Despite high production costs, some citrus orchards are located on the hills, resulting in the development of terraces which are typical of these territories and allow excellent productions. In fact, exposure to sunshine plays a key role in the process of pigmentation of the fruit: among farmers it is well known, that by exposing orange groves to the North, the pigmentation occurs faster. Blood oranges have detoxifying properties, stabilise blood circulation and have beneficial effects on bone mineralisation processes. The high content in vitamin C (100 mg in a 200 g orange), carotenes, flavonoids and vitamin PP has a considerable antioxidant effect, strengthening the immune system and body tissues, with remarkable beneficial effects on microcirculation, articulations, gums and skin. The pleasant balance between sweetness and tartness makes the blood orange suitable for different dishes. In fact, compared with yellow oranges, red oranges retain a slight tartness even when fully ripe, which can add freshness to the richest dishes. A very typical Sicilian salad is orange salad, in which blood oranges are successfully paired with onions, salt, oil and chilli pepper, and traditionally accompanied with anchovies. Blood oranges are also excellent with raw fennels or artichoke hearts thinly sliced.
Artecibo editorial board
Content edited by staff