Oranges of a different color: 7 recipes for making the most of bloods and Cara Caras
It is perhaps a mark of how lucky we are to live in Southern California that we not only have wonderful oranges to comfort us in the winter, but that we have many different kinds of oranges as well. There may not be anything sweeter than a well-grown navel orange, but our blood oranges and Cara Cara oranges will certainly give it a run for its money.
The bloods in particular are among winter’s best fruits. Not only are they delicious, but they’re visually striking as well, coming in colors ranging from berry-stained orange to deep dark crimson. Cara Caras aren’t as dramatic, but their salmon pink flesh is beautiful in its own way.
There are two principal varieties of blood oranges grown in California. Perhaps the best-flavored is the Tarocco, which has a bright, berry-like taste but inconveniently is the one that shows the least color. Moros are much more consistently blood-hued and their flavor is also reliably good.
Though blood oranges have been around forever, the Cara Cara is a relatively new fruit. It was first found in 1976 as a “sport” growing in a navel orange orchard in Venezuela (Hacienda de Cara Cara, actually). The flesh of the Cara Cara is darker than a typical navel, though it is shaded pink rather than red. It has an unusual tutti-frutti flavor, scented with maybe a hint of vanilla.
How to choose: Blood oranges will show some dark red staining on the peel, but it’s difficult to predict the color of the flesh based on that. Sometimes there will be a lot of staining and only mottled flesh; sometimes the peel will be pale orange and the flesh will be dark red. It’s a gamble. Rather than trying to guess color, shop for them the way you would for other citrus – choose fruit that is hard and heavy for its size, ensuring it’s the juiciest.
How to store: Oranges have relatively thick peels and can be stored at room temperature for several days. If they begin to feel soft, refrigerate immediately. On the other hand, chilling does not harm the flavor at all, so there’s no reason not to put them straight in the fridge if you have room.
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