It seems to me that blood oranges are a lot like London buses: bright red and you don't see one for ages then they all turn up at once. Dubious similes aside when I was growing up there always seemed to be blood oranges in the fruit bowl (but then again Wagon Wheels were the size of dustbin lids and Curly Wurleys were more like ladders) but I hadn't see one myself for a long time. At university I developed a bit of an obsession with Tropicana Sanguinello juice, but even that seems to be intermittently available due to first droughts, and then frosts wiping out a large part of the Sicilian blood orange crop.
So where have all the blood oranges gone? To Soho judging from my stroll around the West End last week. First of all we spied a crate of Moro blood oranges in Gelupo and excitedly filled up a brown paper bag. Then while walking down Berwick Street Market every other stall seemed to have huge, blushing, piles of them. I was in a citrus wonderland and grabbed armfuls of them to take home and enjoy.
They looked so lovely in the fruit bowl, all bright and burnished, that it almost seemed a shame to eat them, but I didn't want to miss out on any of their lovely sour, sweet raspberry-tinged flavour. Apart from enjoying them simply quartered, with bright red juice running down to my elbows, I also made an quick jelly that captured the bright fruitiness perfectly. I'm not normally a huge jelly fan but the advantage of making your own means that you can choose the 'wobble' factor to suit your own preference and keep the ingredients nice and simple to let the fresh flavours really shine through. If you want to make this a little more 'grown up' reduce the juice and add the same amount of prosecco or cava. Alternatively add a little orange liqueur to lightly whipped cream to serve.
Blood Orange Jelly
400ml Blood orange juice (approx 4/5 oranges)
150ml simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar)
5 Gelatine leaves (see note below)
Double cream or Greek yogurt to served
Juice your oranges and strain liquid into a bowl.
Soak gelatin leaves a a little of the juice for 10 minutes.
To make the sugar syrup place equal amounts of caster sugar and water into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Place juice and soaked gelatine into a clean pan and gently heat until the gelatine has thoroughly dissolved.
Add cooled sugar syrup to juice and spoon into glasses, moulds or hollowed out orange halves.
Refrigerate until set.
Serve with double cream or Greek yogurt.
(Note- Check the instructions on your gelatine packet before you start. Sizes and weights may vary and you may need to add more or less to get it to set properly)
As well as going for the classy champagne flute presentation I also succumbed to a bit of kitsch and filled some hollowed out orange halves. After they had set I cut them in half again and tucked in, this time without the need to stand over the sink to catch the drips! These would be perfect in the summer but are also great way to bring a slice of Sicilian sunshine to a dark winter's day.