Another reason to love Italy: Tarocco blood oranges.
Taroccos make sweet, low acid juice, which are perfect for your morning antioxidant, low calorie, breakfast of champions. Tarocco’s have the highest vitamin C content of any orange, and are high in fiber. How can something taste so good and be healthy when it comes in crazy Fred Flinstone vitamin colors?
The Tarocco, with it’s lumpy body and dark orange skin is a surprise every time you cut into one because you never know how ‘bloody’ it will be: the flesh can be barely streaked to completely blood soaked.
Apparently people have been grappling wih a flavor description for centuries. In 1646 a Jesuit priest, described the flavor as grape-like. Contemporary sources call it berry-like, with raspberry notes. Which sounds rather high falutin’. I just call it a damn good orange.
Because the flavor is mild and sweet, Tarocco juice is a tricky component for cocktails. We had the same issue with our tangerine cocktails; you needed something to tame the sweetness (and for the record, Green Chartreuse didn’t work at all). It would probably make a refreshing spritzer with Campari and a bit of bubble water. Unfortunately, we’re so in love with them for breakfast, none have survived until aperitivo hour, but this could be fun to experiment with.
I’m also thinking it would make a lovely butter sauce for a white fleshed fish. Perhaps a roasted orata with blood orange butter could be on the menu for dinner tomorrow night?
The Tarocco, which means ‘beautiful’ in a Sicilian dialect, has been grown around the Mt. Etna volcano for at least 700 years, although it seems possible that these oranges came to Sicily with the Moors or a passing Spaniard. It’s also known as the half-blood orange because it’s flesh isn’t completely bloody like the Moro or Sanguinello oranges.
The good news is you don’t have to come to Italy for them, they are available from California from February to May. It also looks like Local Harvest is offering them for sale, so you have a good chance of being able to sample the legendary Tarocco orange.
Warning: don’t wear white when juicing or eating these babies! However if you do need a costume suggestion for eating a Tarocco, I’d suggest something hot-blooded and Sicilian. The rest is up to you.