The Sicilian Blood Orange gets its name and colour from the unique, world-famous location in which it is grown. The volcanic soil surrounding Mount Etna and the variation in temperature, which alternates between hot and cold, produces the anthocyanin pigments that give the oranges that wonderfully intense red colour and make them a powerful natural antioxidant.
The Sicilian Blood Orange comes in three varieties: Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello.
The Tarocco variety is seedless and has a yellow-orangey colour with reddish pigments. Its moderately juicy flesh makes it an ideal orange to eat as-is but it also produces an excellent-tasting sweet juice.
The Moro variety matures earlier than the other types and is slightly egg-shaped with an intense winey red coloured flesh.
The Sanguinello variety, the oldest of the three types, has an extremely juicy flesh and virtually no seeds and so is ideal for juicing.
The pigmentation of the blood orange is influenced both by its genotype as well as various environmental factors, first and foremost of which is climate. The red color (pigmentation) of the pulp is brighter in years that experience lower minimum temperatures. Citrus fruits exposed to the north pigment with more intensity and speed than those exposed to the south.
Another determining factor in the pigmentation of Sicilian blood oranges is from the temperature range between day and night: the wider the range, the more red they become. This is often seen in Catania area, where the widest temperature ranges and highest pigmentation are found on the slopes of Mount Etna.
The climate on Etna can vary as much as 15° C from day to night, which plays a decisive role in the life of citrus fruits - especially for their pigmentation. Encouraged by volcanic climatic variations, the oranges literally undergo a color change that leaves them deep red at maturity.
That's why blood oranges are grown in this small piece of land, a magical place that expresses itself through the color of love, by means of its finest fruits. The intensity of the red coloration may differ even among the same variety of citrus, and there is not always a correlation between their internal and external coloring.
Sanguinelli pigment more internally, Tarocco oranges behave variably in relation to climatic conditions, and Moro oranges feature intense coloring both internally and externally. In Sicily, oranges with red pulp account for approximately 70% of the total orange production, and over time there has been significant growth in the spread of Tarocco cultivars along with a slight decline of Moro cultivars.
In addition to the presence of anthocyanins, red oranges are also distinguished by other characteristics:
- they have higher values of Vitamin C, reaching values above 70 mg per 100 ml of juice;
- the harmonious balance between sugars and acids, added to different aromatic substances, makes the juice of blood oranges particularly enjoyable.