There are things we simply cannot grow in the Walled Garden mostly because we do not get enough sun. We can grow lemons, but oranges and blood oranges are simply not possible for us. It is now the height of the blood orange season and one of the best is the Sicilian Tarocco. This orange is extremely high in vitamin C and our ancestors used to import them at this time of the year for their health. During the Napoleonic War Sicily was commissioned by the British Navy to grow the oranges needed to avoid the crew getting scurvy. Armed with this knowledge I, together with a few friends, have imported four 16 kilo boxes. If you have never tried a ripe orange, picked when it is ready – not when some supermarket decrees, then kept in stasis in gas for months and finally offered for sale. If the answer is no then I would recommend you go to Homegrown in Newtownards as quickly as possible. The Whites have the very same Sicilian Tarocco oranges for sale at the moment. I’m not sharing any of mine, but what I will share is what to do with these winter gems.
First of all I think you need to understand why the Sicilian blood oranges are the best: it is because of the climate. In Spain and Florida the temperature never really drops as it does on Sicily. There it can easily be 18-20C during the day, but it will drop to low single figures at night. It is this drop which gives the Tarocco its special flavour. So on Monday this week 4 boxes were deposited at my front door. My two boxes were promptly opened and all oranges were washed and gone over. Any that were soft we juiced immediately, it was about 11. Our housekeeper, BD and I then had a huge glass of the juice with lunch and it was just heavenly. It was also very filling. We emptied the drinks fridge and put them all in there where they are at 4C.
I go over all the oranges every day and take the ripest. I then decide what I am going to use them for today. Tonight we are going to have a risotto with Portavogie prawns and after I’m going to make bread and butter pudding with an orange custard and some Rich Fruit Loaf. The zest I’ve candied and it will go into the custard. I’ve also candied the peel of the 20 or so oranges we used in the first 72 hours since their arrival. Those I’ll dip in good chocolate for after dinner treats.
Tomorrow for breakfast we can have a Winter Fruit Salad made from orange segments, pomegranate seeds and dried fruit. This includes dried cherries. It is really good with Clandeboye yogurt and my own granola. As you can see my Tarocco adventure goes on and on. It will be so interesting to see how they hold up and how soon we get through them. I’ll keep you posted.