Ask anyone who hasn’t tasted or heard of blood orange or bloedlemoen if they know what the somewhat macabre-sounding fruit is, and they will probably recoil in horror. Who on earth would want to eat a blood orange? It’s the very oxymoron of what fruit should be! On the contrary, as most Saffas know, blood oranges are not filled with blood; the bloed (blood) in the Dutch word bloed-lemoen describes the orange’s internal colouring.
What is a bloedlemoen?
Blood oranges are typically smaller than other orange varieties and have thick, rough skin. Inside the fruit, the flesh colour can range from dark pink to maroon and even blood red, hence its name. The blood orange is a citrus fruit that prefers warm climates; however, it needs cold winters to achieve its colouring, which it gets from a pigment called Anthocyanin. Therefore, growing them in the Western Cape is what we like to call a ‘no-brainer!’ This region, with its hot summers and chilly winters, is the ideal climate for the sweet and tasty blood orange.
Blood orange characteristics
Blood orange season in South Africa is June- August, and the fruit is readily available in most supermarkets and stores. However, if you’re looking for the perfect bloedlemoen, you need to know what you are looking for when out perusing the local market stalls. Below are some bloedlemoen spotting tips.
- Small oranges with thick rough skin, this may have a slight rosy blush to it
- The bloedlemoen is sweeter than the Naval orange
- Its flesh segments are pink to dark red
- The fruit has fewer seeds and is easier to peel
How to store bloedlemoen
Like most oranges, the bloedlemoen should be stored in a cool environment to prevent it from spoiling. That said, it can cope with room temperatures for up to a week, but keeping them in the fridge will help them last much longer. For tasty results, the fruit should be consumed before the peel become wrinkled and baggy.
How oranges arrived in South Africa
It’s probably easier to start at the beginning when oranges first reached South Africa’s sunny shores. According to history, citrus fruit (oranges) first landed on the banks of the Olifants River Valley on 11 June 1654, aboard a ship called the Tulp. Its cargo hailed from St Helena, where the Portuguese recognizing their high vitamin C content, grew oranges to treat sick sailors.
Due to a lack of vegetables and fruit on long voyages, many sailors suffered from scurvy. This vitamin C deficiency was easily cured by incorporating vitamin C into their diets.
So what was once a medicine is now a gorgeous addition to one of our five-a-day! In fact, we love oranges so much it’s even been made into a signature gin!
Created in 2015, bloedlemoen gin is a South African product made from locally sourced bloedlemoen in the Western Cape. Bloedlemoen gin is one of the first of its kind in the world and contains ten all-natural ingredients.
- Blood orange
- Orange peel
- Cassia bark
- Grains of paradise
- Liquorice root
- Angelica root
You can purchase Bloedlemoen gin direct from contract distilleries such as Cape Towns’ first local licensed small-batch distiller, Hope Distillery.
Blood orange tart recipe
Although the bloedlemoen makes a decadent gin, it can also be used to create equally delicious baked goods. The below recipe is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to enjoy blood orange this orange season.
Upside-down bloedlemoen tart
What you need
- 2-3 blood oranges
- Brown sugar for sprinkling
- 250 g butter softened
- Pomegranate rubies (optional)
- 500g All butter pastry sheets – cold from the fridge
What to do
- Set the oven temperature to 220 C, and allow it to preheat
- Peel and slice each blood orange into segments.
- Grease a shallow baking tray with a little butter and layer the base using the bloedlemoen segments. Make sure you have enough orange slices on the base as you want the orange layer nice and juicy.
- Next, sprinkle brown sugar generously over the orange segments and top with dollops of softened butter. No one said this recipe was healthy!
- Cut a large circle from a chilled pastry sheet; this should be large enough to cover the orange segments and form a lid for the baking tray/dish.
- Place the bloedlemoen tart in the oven and bake it for approximately twenty minutes. When the crust is golden brown and crispy, the pastry is ready!
- Using oven gloves, remove the tray from the oven and allow the tart to cool for five minutes. Then carefully tip the tart onto a large serving plate. The oranges should be on top and the crust at the bottom – it is an upside-down tart, after all!
- Sprinkle the pomegranate rubies over the top of the tart and serve with creme fraiche or lashings of vanilla ice cream on the side.
The tasty bloedlemoen is so versatile you can use it to garnish salads, add flair to fancy cocktails and even pop it into tropical smoothies. However, you may prefer to enjoy your bloedlemoen the old-fashioned way, devouring its juicy sweet segments over the kitchen sink. Either way, the sensory experience that the bloedlemoen supplies are definitely one worth repeating! Happy orange hunting this season from the Finglobal team!
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