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A bloody lovely fruit

In their native Sicily they are known as arancia rossa. Here we call them Blood Oranges.
Some of you will already have them on your list of favourite fruits. They are addictive.
But they may be new to others. Don’t let their slightly squeamish name put you off; they are a traditional citrus with a delicious tinge of extra fruitiness. From the outside they look like normal medium-sized oranges, a bit softer to the touch because they are bursting with juice. Sometimes you can see blushes of pink on the skin. Cut them in half and there is a dramatic revelation. Inside the best ones the juice is RED!

Why red?
Redbelly Blood Oranges this Magnificent Life
Sicillian Blood Oranges

The colour comes from a concentration of anthocyanin a natural red colouring in a number of flowers, fruits and vegetables.
This crimson compound is also credited with some significant health benefits. You should go to the website to read all about it.
The season for this fruit in Australia is late July to the end of November. The early crop can be slightly tart which makes them perfect in savoury dishes, with fish, poultry and pork. They are a dramatic substitute for lemons and limes.
Later in the year, they sweeten up a little and then you can taste reddish notes like raspberries. Then they are great for delicate desserts, jams preserves and jellies.

Where to find the best?

To answer that question, we were invited to one of Sydney’s best restaurants. Our hosts were the Redbelly Blood Orange people – third generation citrus farmers Anthony, Vito and Len Mancini from the Riverina’s prime citrus country.


Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent Life
Lucio introduces Len Mancini of Redbelly Blood Oranges


As Italians presenting an Italian fruit where else would they take us but Lucio’s.
Introducing Len, Lucio remembers his grandmother in the old country scolding him to eat his arancias to help him grow big and strong.
Len then tells us how this family worked with the Department of Primary Industry to find the best land in SE Australia to match the climate of Catania in Sicily.
Blood oranges are as sensitive as grapes to grow well, depending on the perfect terroir, soil and weather conditions to produce their best. This fruit depends on warm days and cold nights to bring out the intense colour and flavor.
Redbelly Blood Oranges are not grown together with other citrus. They have their own orchards where their ideal conditions can be maintained.

How to cook with them
Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent Life
The liqueur made in Scotland from Sicilian blood oranges

Lucio’s team certainly know how to cook, but to get us started we try the liquid form first.

Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent Life
Evonne Eadie – National Brand Ambassador from William Grant & Sons shows us Solerno

We have a cocktail made with Solerno Liqueur. This is made with Sicilian blood oranges by the legendary Scottish distiller, William Grant & Sons. Truly delicious and refreshing. Another cocktail, a blood orange negroni is a perfect appetizer with passed-around goat cheese and blood orange marmalade crostini.

Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent Life
The entree, tuna carpaccio with blood orange segments

We sit down to kingfish carpaccio with blood orange and fennel. The accompanying wine is a 2014 pinot grigio from Fruili.
Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent LifeThen we have a main of roast duck marinated with blood orange and served with blood orange sauce.
Swirling comfortably beside it is a glass of medium-bodied but fruity 2013 chianti from Toscana.

Redbelly Blood Oranges This Magnificent Life
Dessert, cannoli with blood orange mousse

For dessert, showing how this fabulous fruit knows no boundaries we have a chocolate cannoli filled with blood orange mousse.
Hold it, we’re not finished yet. Palates are cleansed and refreshed with a Solerno blood orange espresso martini served in a coffee cup.

Too much is never enough

Sounds like overkill, doesn’t it? But no, if we had not been aware of the theme we would have judged it a perfectly balanced meal. I guess that proves the versatility of this fruit.

Great to taste on its own. Fabulous in food and good for you too.
Learn more at

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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