rose-tinted glasses

The days are getting longer, the groundhog has emerged without a winter care, and visions of fresh berries, spring peas, and tender leafy greens dance in our heads.

Alas, these vernal thoughts are premature. No matter what any four-footed prognosticator may prognosticate, Old Man Winter’s finest roots and comely Cruciferae will dominate the fresh produce court until late April.

Luckily, this is also the time of year when, through the magic of shipping and distribution, fresh citrus fruits are within easy reach, ripe and ready to be enjoyed by anyone who choses to venture from their cozy den. None is more appealing than the elusive blood orange (Citrus sinesis var).

Distinctive, refreshing and healthful, the precise origins of this colorful orange varietal are unknown. Many historians agree that blood oranges have a Mediterranean origin and were first cultivated in Sicily during Arab rule in the 9th or 10th centuries. Others believe that the original cultivated blood oranges hail from China. Wherever the origin, these crimson-hued oranges, seemingly straight out of the Hesperides’ mythical garden, have fascinated citrus lovers ever since.

Blood oranges boast a intense, citrusy, sweet aroma that can fragrance a room, beckoning passersby to stop and and admire this natural wonder’s pitted, red-blushed skin. Slice into one and the moniker’s inspiration is revealed: vibrant juice runs from the lush flesh, its color ranging from orange-rose to deep magenta.

No matter what the folkloric forecast may say, be sure to indulge in these beautiful citrusy delights and experience the fresh-squeezed, early arrival of sunny days ahead.

sparkling blood orangeade

Serves 4-6

Freshly squeezed, slightly bitter, rosy-hued Moro blood orange juice combined with simple syrup and sparkling water makes for a simple, sophisticated beverage.
  • 1 cup Moro blood orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup*
  • 3 cups cold sparkling water
Combine blood orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup; refrigerate until cold. When ready to serve, combine blood orange mix with sparkling water in a 1.5 quart pitcher, gently stirring to combine. Serve cold over ice, as desired.

Brunch tip: Add an ounce or two of vodka, gin, or light rum to each glass, then add the orangeade.

* To make simple syrup: In a small pot over medium-low heat, simmer 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat; let cool, covered, to room temperature; transfer into a sterilized bottle. Store in refrigerator. Makes 1 1/2 cups, enough for 3 pitchers of orangeade.