Blood Oranges: Winter's Delight

by Madeline Popelka


About two months ago I tasted my first fresh blood orange. Kendall and I were at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in search of some exciting winter fruit—we were not disappointed. We saw a tent with mountains of citrus, and after having one sample of blood orange, I knew I had found my new favorite winter fruit.

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On the outside blood oranges look like normal oranges, just smaller, and the peel will sometimes be blushed with pink or red. The small size of the orange is a huge advantage when it comes to making cocktails—they fit perfectly in a lemon press, so they are really easy to juice! 

You might get a little freaked out the first time you cut into a blood orange and reveal the bloody interior. But don’t let the gruesome name of the fruit, or color of the flesh, intimidate you—each slice is packed with tons of orange flavor. The color of the flesh ranges from orangey-pink to deep burgundy. I find the oranges with darker flesh to be sweeter, and have a slight berry-like taste.

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This unique and beautiful fruit is rich in antioxidants. Packed with Vitamin C, it’s the perfect snack to boost your immune system during flu and cold season. This year they should be in season till about April, so get them while they’re peaking!

The first spirit I tried to mix blood orange with was gin. Delicious. One of my favorite gins is the Terroir Gin from St. George Spirits, a local distillery on the naval base in Alameda. For those who don’t know, gin is a clear spirit, made from a mash or cereal grain (mostly corn, wheat, rye, and barley) and flavored with botanicals, juniper usually being the most prominent flavor. What makes the Terroir Gin unique is that the botanicals are locally foraged. When I drink it, each sip takes me on a walk through the coastal forests of California. 

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The blood orange in my Mount Tam Trails cocktail brought out the earthy notes of the Terroir Gin, with the taste of rosemary and sage lingering on the back of your tongue. To make the cocktail I combined juice of one blood orange, two ounces of Terroir Gin, and two drops of grapefruit bitters in a pint glass full of ice. After stirring the cocktail for about thirty seconds, I double strained it into a chilled cocktail glass. Voila!

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I truly believe that if you use fresh, high-quality ingredients in a cocktail, it is going to turn out good. How could I go wrong with fresh blood oranges and good bourbon? For this next cocktail you can add as much bourbon and blood orange you would like, depending on how boozy and juicy you want it.

To make my Winter’s Punch cocktail, I combined the juice of one blood orange, a few ounces of Wild Turkey 101, and about a teaspoon of Cointreau in a pint glass full of ice, stirred, and double strained it over one large ice cube.

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

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Wild Turkey 101 is fantastic bourbon, especially for its price (around $20). What I love about Wild Turkey 101 is that it comes out of the barrel at about 109 proof, so very little water is used to dilute it to 101 proof (50.5% alcohol by volume). The final product is rich and spicy with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and caramel.  Other bourbons are distilled at a higher proof (because it’s cheaper) and much more water is added to bring the proof down, leaving you with diluted, flavorless bourbon. Yuck. If you’re looking for high-quality bourbon for an awesome price, Turkey 101 is for you.

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Last night, Kendall and I created an awesome Blood Orange Balsamic Dressing for our salad. To make the dressing we took the zest and juice from two blood oranges and half of a lemon, and let it simmer in a small pot until reduced to a thick sauce. Once the blood orange reduction cooled, we added four tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar, seven tablespoons of olive oil, and a little salt.

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These recipes are perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner or cocktail party—treat your sweetie, and give them a try!

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Photo by Kendall Woodruff

Cheers everyone! Thanks for reading :)