To demonstrate the versatility of blood oranges in culinary and mixology applications, Sunkist hosted a two-day “Taste of the Grove” blood orange immersion in the heart of its lush citrus groves in Dinuba, Calif.

Known for their deep red flesh, blood oranges originated in Sicily and have made their way into a vast amount of food and beverage categories. According to Geneva, Ill.-based FONA International’s social listening technology, blood orange social mentions increased 107 percent in the six months ending April 2019, blood orange product introductions grew
16 percent during one year, and menu items featuring blood oranges are expanding globally.

Sunkist’s “Taste of the Grove” immersion experience gave industry experts and influencers, myself included, an up-close-and-personal experience of the succulent blood orange through foods and drinks prepared by top chefs and mixologists. We also met with the Sunkist team, including the Gillette family, who operates 1,500 acres of Sunkist groves, 150 of which produce the sought-after blood variety.

Day one began at Playa Provisions, Playa Del Rey, Calif., owned by “Top Chef “winner Brooke Williamson and her husband, Nick Roberts. The five-course lunch featured blood oranges incorporated as a main ingredient, reduction, dressing, zest, sauce or garnish, complemented by blood orange cocktails and mocktails. In the evening, mixologist Nate Windham led a demo at the Visalia, Calif., Marriott, using blood oranges to create a variety of fresh, colorful and innovative cocktails, followed by a several-course meal prepared by Chef Antonio Arevalo, featuring a variety of delectable variations of blood oranges in salad and sauces.

Day Two began with tours of the Gillette citrus groves and packing plant, where we hand-picked and sampled fresh blood oranges straight from the trees.

After experiencing more than 25 of blood orange’s culinary and mixology applications, it’s clear to see why blood orange is trending and gaining traction in the “exotic fruit” category, and I’m excited to see where it pops up next.