It might surprise you to know that some of my biggest thrills here at TVFGI have involved vinegar. Making fruit vinegars, to be exact, and the revelation that they can be the most explosive, versatile flavor tools in my entire kitchen arsenal. I know vinegar sounds like an unlikely candidate for such praise, but I couldn’t be more serious. The secret to this Blood Orange Vinegar, like my BLACKBERRY VINEGAR and my RASPBERRY VINEGAR, is the high ratio of fresh fruit juice and fruit pulp. It’s something you can’t get off the shelf, even at the fanciest gourmet shops, because the processing just sucks the life right out of the mass produced product. On top of that, what you can buy in the store is incredibly expensive. It all adds up to one of the best kitchen projects you could ever treat yourself to.
When I’m feeling down, or lacking in inspiration here on the blog, this is the kind of project that can bring all my enthusiasm right back to the surface. How easy and satisfying this is — the whole thing takes just a few minutes from start to finish — from cutting the rinds off the oranges and revealing the jewel tones of their flesh, to decanting the rosy elixir into a recycled vinegar bottle. My scant cup of vinegar will enhance so many things in the next few weeks, I can hardly wait. Maybe it will become part of a glaze for roast chicken, maybe I’ll experiment with a shrub cocktail, but I know for sure it will be turning plain salads into something to get excited about.
Blood oranges are a lovely mutation of the sweet orange; they look like regular oranges on the outside, but inside, their flesh has quite a range of color, from dark purple or maroon, to a mottled red and orange. Whatever hue your particular oranges are, your vinegar is guaranteed to be stunning.
I use white wine vinegar because it isn’t too astringent, and allows the citrus flavor and color to shine through. You could try this with white balsamic vinegar, if you like, for a sharper flavor. The finished product has such a brilliant blood orange character that you’ll be tempted to drink it straight.
- 2 large blood oranges (or 1 blood orange and 1 Cara Cara orange)
- about 1/3 cup good quality white wine vinegar
- Carefully cut the peel from the oranges, taking care not to cut away too much of the pulp. Cut the oranges in quarters, pull out any seeds, and put it all in the bowl of a small 4 cup food processor.
- Whiz the oranges until they are completely pureed.
- Press the orange puree through a mesh sieve, using the back of a large spoon to squeeze as much of the juice through as possible. Some pulp will also get through, and that's what you want. Be sure to skim off the pulp that sticks to the underside of the sieve, that's good stuff!
- You will have approximately 1/2 cup or so of thick blood orange juice. Add about 1/3 cup of vinegar and stir well. Taste and add more vinegar if you like.
- Pour the vinegar into a jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator. Give it a shake before using, and use within the month.
When I peeled my oranges I realized that I had accidentally gotten 1 blood orange and 1 Cara Cara orange, so I used them both. You can definitely blend varieties for this.
Specialty vinegars and olive oils come in very pretty bottles, and when I do invest in them I make sure to save those bottles to recycle for DIY projects like this one. This slender frosted bottle was the exact size I needed, and it will be a pleasure to look at and use for the next few weeks.
I really hope you get inspired to make some of your own fruity vinegars. I am going to be posting a couple of others as I continue to experiment with new flavors. In the meantime, try this one drizzled on tomatoes, melon, burratta cheese, salad of all shapes and sizes, or, of course, just by the spoonful.