Blood oranges, if they were only in season during Halloween, would have been perfect for my annual zombie book club meeting. Instead, I chose pomengranates to represent the bloodinness of that time of the year. But appropriately, a (belated) anti-Valentine’s day potluck theme for my writing workshop was swiftly suggested and the blood orange idea popped up in my head. What is more anti-valentine than blood oranges?
To the uninitiated, the blood orange is a variety of orange that…just happens to have red streaks. The most common kind sold in the US is the Moro which is sweet…with a slight taste of raspberry.
Having traveled the world of ice cream for awhile, I often run into blood oranges usually found as gelato. For this potluck (especially for the preference for vegan and gluten-free foods), I knew that I had to make a sorbet.
Without an appropriate juicer, I thought about the approach for the blood orange sorbet. Unlike the other sorbets, blood oranges or simply just oranges needed some care. The thick skin (and pith) needed to be removed. And! The oranges contained untasty cream-colored seeds. How was I to get the juice without added the awful flavor of seeds?
I searched farmers markets for the best blood orange, luring me with their scent. At the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, I came across all sorts of oranges. Proprietors lured us with a small slice, “Come try!”
I went in, devouring all the samples. Yes, please fill my hands! Then I looked further. Like my usual shopping, I balked at the price. $3.50/lb $4/lb. Sometimes $4.99/lb as if to mock my wallet.
Finally, I went to the market close to my apartment—Valencia Farmers Market, an actual storefront unlike the open booths of the farmers market downtown. It’s located across the street from a shuttle stop for the shuttles to Google and all similar Silicon Valley companies. There, I filled up my basket with the blood oranges at $1.69/lb. The cashier smiled and said that I should get two more in order to make an even $6. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she said. “I love the bright green leaves.”
At home, I peeled the oranges (revealing a bloody mess!) and kept the peel. I love sugary things, so I made candied orange peels (which can also be dipped in chocolate). Granted, I don’t have the most steady hand, so the peels themselves are not curled beauties unlike that of Jacques Pépin. Nonetheless, they added a nice citrus zesty kick to the blood orange sorbet. As I am writing this, I am licking the remaining sugar now.
For the candied orange peel
Peels from the blood oranges (see below sorbet recipe)
3 cups of sugar
Cut the peels into at least 1/4 inch strips. They can be as chunky as mine or long curly beautiful strips.
In a medium saucepan, cover the strips with water. Bring to boil over high heat. About 15 minutes. Drain. Repeat. If the strips contain pitch, repeat once more. Drain.
Now in the saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil until the mixture reaches thread stage (candying terms) approximately 230 F° or when a small amount of cold water forms a soft thread. Add the peels and stir. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain.
In a small bowl with 1 cup of sugar, roll the strips until thoroughly covered in sugar. Let dry on a wire rack overnight. Eat on its own, dip in chocolate…or better yet, top the blood orange sorbet with candied orange peels!
For the sorbet
6-8 blood oranges to make 3 cups of blood orange juice with pulp
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of blood orange zest
Peel the oranges, removing as much of the pith as possible. Make a teaspoon of zest from the blood oranges.
If making candied orange peel, consider whether you want your candied orange peel to have only the outer layer (the sparkly orange oily stuff) or whether you want it to include the pith. The latter requires a little more blanching. Read the candied orange peel recipe for more instructions!
Ideally, a juicer is best for this task. However, a blender works well! Access to a juicer was too far away (aka one mile away which was too far for my blood orange sorbet demands!), so I used a blender to “juice” the blood oranges.
If using a blender, using your hands, remove all seeds. Blend together to mix approximately 3 cups of blood orange juice.
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of blood orange juice, sugar and zest. Stir until dissolved. Let cool and blend the blood orange sugar syrup with the rest of the blood orange juice.
Chill the blood orange sorbet at least for 3 hours or overnight.
Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be slightly soft. Freeze for at least an hour for good consistency.
Serve as is or top with candied orange peel.