blood oranges

Better Blood Oranges a Possibility for Florida Growers

Daniel CooperFresh, Research

blood oranges
Blood oranges are rich in anthocyanins, which have been linked to various health benefits.
Photo courtesy of Ali Sarkhosh, UF/IFAS

Blood oranges teeming with antioxidants and other health benefits may be a shot in the arm for consumers and citrus growers, if the fruit is stored at cool temperatures, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) study shows. But it’s too soon to know if blood oranges are a viable crop for the Florida citrus industry, said Ali Sarkhosh, a UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences.

Sarkhosh’s post-doctoral associate Fariborz Habibi, lead author of the study, explains: “Although blood oranges typically command higher prices than other common varieties, such as navel or Valencia oranges, it is unclear if farmers could substantially increase their per-acre income by adding them to their crop selection and then storing them for internal color development. Improved fruit quality from the storage method presents a promising opportunity for the Florida citrus industry. However, further study is needed before recommending anything to growers.”

The fruit is rich in anthocyanins, which have been linked to various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They also contain other beneficial phytochemicals such as vitamin C and flavonoids.

“Fruit can also develop internal color under similar conditions at home. However, the fruit in the supermarket should have a good internal color and be ready for consumption,” Sarkhosh said.

For this research, scientists harvested fruit from a research plot at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy.

Scientists found that storing the blood oranges at 40 to 53 degrees enhances anthocyanin, phenolic content and antioxidants. When they lowered the temperatures to 43 to 46 degrees, they also preserved fruit firmness, weight loss and sugar content.

“Attributes such as firmness are crucial for maintaining the overall quality, texture and taste of the blood oranges during storage,” said Habibi.

Blood oranges get their name from their deep red flesh. Their skin contains a type of antioxidant pigment. The fruit is commonly grown in countries like Italy and Spain, which have the Mediterranean climate — cold but above 32 degrees — that helps them grow. In the United States, blood oranges grow primarily in California.

The fruit is not grown commercially yet in Florida. Anthocyanin develops when the fruit is exposed to cold temperatures between 46 and 59 degrees for at least 20 days. Such conditions are rare in Florida’s subtropical climate.

Source: UF/IFAS

Share this Post

Sponsored Content