Sicily has been producing blood oranges since 800AD, when the cultivation of oranges gradually spread through China and India to east Africa and then to the Mediterranean region. The fertile plains around Catania, the volcanic soil on the slopes of Mount Etna (the highest volcano in Europe), and the thermal drop between hot days and cold nights found in Sicily provide the unique conditions needed to grow these richly flavoured and coloured “red rubies of the Mediterranean”.
Red oranges are intensely, uniquely flavoursome - quite a different experience!
The Castorina family has been growing red oranges from the beginning of the last century. Rosario Castorina Calì (pictured here with wife Maria and son Salvatore) owned a “giardino” on the slopes of Mount Etna.
The fruit was exported to the UK, Europe, Russia and the US - a 40-day journey via ship and rail. Today Volcano is run by Mario, Rosario’s grandson (pictured top), who carefully tends his citrus trees in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way, delivering the best quality to your fruit bowl.
For a special healthy treat this season, look out for the “Jaffa Reds” at Tesco. Though they look like ordinary oranges, they are altogether a much more precious and tasty fruit. Cut one open to reveal the eye-catching colour inside, and use segments or slices to decorate salads and other dishes. Try serving some freshly squeezed deep red juice as an appetizer or add it to long drinks. A unique blend of sweetness and acidity together with a very intense perfume makes the Jaffa Red an ideal ingredient for many appealing recipes and dishes.
Studies have proven that red oranges have a much higher Vitamin C content than blond oranges, and a large number of antioxidants. The secret here lies in the colour itself. The red pigments, called anthocyans, are very powerful antioxidants and protect the tree itself from the winter frosts - while doing their bit to help keep you healthy too!