Pigmented Oranges

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Pigmented Oranges
(Blood Oranges)

The fruits from these cultivars, in the skin and pulp they have particularly red pigments (antociani) in addition to the carotenoids present in all citrus. The contents of these substances vary in relation to some factors that could have genetic or environmental origin.

Indeed, the intensity of the colour changes between various cultivars, therefore, within this group there is another two subgroups, according to the colour intensity.

The climate factor plays such an important part that some cultivar with well pigmented fruits, moved to an unsuited environment, can practically loose all its character. The best conditions for Pigmentation, is a dry climate, such as in the Mediterranean, with a high temperature range between day and night during the critical period in order for the red colour to appear, that is to say late autumn and early winter, according to how early the cultivar is.  Low temperatures work on the phenomenon in a determined way, therefore it can be seen that fruits facing the north side acquire an intense colour when compared to the ones facing south.  Oranges kept in refrigerators at a temperature of about 8° after a couple of days acquire pigmentation from the peel. The requirement of cold temperatures during the ripening period does not exclude that these cultivars also need warmth during summer and autumn,  prior to the ripening process.   Therefore mild climates, not hot enough during summer and not very cold in late autumn and winter, are not advisable for the distinctive cultivar requirements.  This means that the most suitable areas for the pigmented  cultivar is not very extended; such modest adaptability is confirmed by the fact that in Italy the best environmental conditions for the cultivation is found in limited territorial area of Catania and Siracusa facing the Etna Vulcano.  


Usually the reddest of all oranges, its deep red colour tends towards black. If the Taracco is the king of all pigmented oranges, the Moro well deserves to be the Prince with its sour taste.

Probably this important sicilian cultivar originated in the citrus cultivation of the Lentine area (province of Siracusa). In Italy it plays an important role because it opens the doors to the exportation of pigmented pulp oranges.

The fruit are medium sized, with a deep orange colour, with pigmented areas purple-red once it has reached advanced ripening. Its shape changes between spheroid and oval, as the fruits lengthen in the base hemisphere.  In some cases there can be a navel with various dimensions, that determines the fruits exclusion from the first sales category, although it does not judge their esthetical characteristics, organoleptic, and resistance to transportation.  The peel is of medium thickness and the surface has a medium or medium-fine grain. The pulp that is free of pips, is dark red, especially in the apical hemisphere, where you can notice, also in externally green oranges, the first veins. There is a lot of juice and the taste is pleasant, except in very ripe fruits as the odour becomes strong and the taste is not very pleasant.  

Ripening starts at the beginning of December, but the fruits reach the best organoleptic characteristics about one month later. 

Sanguinello Comune

The “sweet” Princess is the red orange from whom the name derives with which pigmented oranges are known world-wide, later than the Moro and the Tarocco, it differentiates its self by its orange colour and its delicate flavour.

It is a Sicilian cultivar whose origin is unknown; it has been present for a long time in the orange province area of Siracusa and Catania. It plays an important part in the Italian economical citrus culture, because it represents, together with the “Sanguinello moscato”, the most important cultivar in Italy during mid season that is after the “Moro” and the “Tarocco”, it follows and closes the pigmented orange country.

These oranges have an oblong or spheroid shape, medium size and bright orange colour with red shades.

The peel and grain is medium sized. The pulp is apyretic has a marked red colour, good juice quantity and excellent flavour when fully ripened. The latter usually starts in February and the main fruit picking takes place during March and April, time when the fruit reach the best organoleptic characteristics. 

Sanguinello Muscato

This cultivar probably originates from the old citrus area in the south-west of the Etna, in the Catania province; this hypothesis comes from the fact that in that territory the oldest systems are found and the widest diffusion took place from there. The adjective “moscato” was added because of the reminding flavour from the wine with the same name.

The fruits have, in comparison to those of “Sanguinello comune” a longer shape (tending to the oval shape due to the present of a slight collar) and larger patches. The peel has grain and medium thickness and orange colour with slight red shades and by far less marked than the “Sanguinello comune”. 


Here is the King of all oranges, with pigmented pulp. The most diffused blood orange within the Sicilian citrus. Its flavour cannot be describes…it can only be tried.

This cultivar is the most diffused, at least between the pigmented. This happened mostly after the second world war following the commercial success and due to cultivars reorganisation non valuable, pigmented or blond.

The fruits have a deep orange colour with red shades and strong patches.  It has a spheroid shape, tending towards oval due to the presence of a collar, or <muzzle>, well developed in the most characteristic oranges. The peel is medium thickness with fine grain. The endocarp, with no pips is crunchy, orange colour and with a good anthocyanic pigmentation with excellent juice and flavour.  The juice contains a high content of vitamin C, (it can reach up to 90 mg/ 100 cc) more than other citrus. Ripening begins at about mid December, for orchards on hills and well exposed to the sun; picking ends at the beginning of April in tardy areas; therefore, this cultivars fruits are found on the market for about four months. 

Why Blood Orange Juice?

Pigmented orange juice from the province of Catania and Siracusa, in the areas facing the Etna vulcano, have a unique characteristic. The presence of the vulcano near orange orchards cause a constant change in temperature between day and night, summer and winter. These climate changes are the cause to a high vitamin C content and determine the presence of a particular flavanoid family, anthocyanins, which give its characteristic red colour.

The blood orange juice is thirst-quenching thanks to its balance between sugars and acids.

Thanks to its delicacy, the product is not excessively manipulated and sophisticated, therefore when drinking it, you have the certainty of what you are actually drinking.

Each cultivar juices have different characteristics:




Mean Values

Moro Dark Red High 0-1000 mg/lt
Tarocco Ruby Red Medium 0-800 mg/lt
Sanguinello Orange Red Low 0-600 mg/lt

The mean values pattern depends on many factors:

Single season 

Origin of plantation 

Ripening of fruit


The high content of natural vitamin C (not added artificially) present in blood orange juice has the following therapeutical properties:

 It effectively fights colds and flues

Cardiac and cardiacvascular defence

Gastric and ulcer prevention

 detoxification of the organism

strengthening of the immune defence system

helps take care of the skin

Fights stress


It has a high content of natural anthocyanins which have the following therapeutical properties:

Cancer prevention

Primary and secondary capillary pathology

Fights the free radicals slowing down ageing

Favours the retinas vascularization

Restoration properties of the epithelium (gastric ulcers)

Favours vascular permeability

Immune-stimulant effects


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