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SHF #43: Citrus – Blood Orange Basil Mint Sorbet

The very first blog event that I ever entered was for Sugar High Fridays [1]. Though it’s only been seven months, it seems like a lifetime ago – long before I became the tough, seasoned blogging pro that I am now – NOT! But seriously, when I look back at those early posts, I realize that I have come a long way. Now, as I write my posts, I no longer feel like my 8th grade English teacher is looking over my shoulder. I try to write as though you were all sitting at my kitchen table, sharing a cup of coffee and some friendly conversation.

And the photos……bleck! I absolutely cringe when I look at those early ones! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Actually, I still have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just a little better at faking it now. Thank goodness there were some kind and generous bloggers out there to help me, one of whom is the lovely and talented Helen, from Tartelette [2], our host for this month’s SHF. I’ve missed a few SHF deadlines in the past several months. They just keep sneaking up on me! But, when I saw that Helen had selected Citrus [3] as this month’s theme, I knew I had to make the time to participate.

Living in the Sunshine State, I have access to many genres of citrus fruits in all forms, shapes and sizes. Like any good Florida girl, I have an ample arsenal of recipes using lemons, oranges, tangelos and grapefruits, all which are indigenous to the area. So, when it came time to pick which one to use, what did I choose? Blood oranges, that’s what! It was a perfectly logical choice
since blood oranges are neither indigenous to Florida, nor are they readily (or hardly ever) available here.

The blood orange is a variety of orange with a crimson, blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange. The juice is sweet but somewhat bitter and less acidic than that of regular oranges. Blood oranges are believed to have originated in Sicily. While the tree will grow and bear fruit in Florida, it is believed that a significant variation in temperature between day and night is necessary to develop the distinctive red color. Since there is no such variation in our climate, blood oranges grown in Florida often have little or no red pigmentation.
So, why did I choose them? Because I love them. They’re different and exotic to me. The first time I ever heard of a blood orange was twenty years ago during my first trip to Italy. One morning for breakfast, I was served a large glass of the most gorgeous deep, dark red-orange liquid. I’d never seen anything like it before. Since I had ordered orange juice, I politely called
our Cameriere over to explain the mistake.
“Ma signora,” he said, trying to stifle a smile, “Prometto. Ciò è succo di arancia.” (I promise. This is orange juice.)

Thus, began my long distance love affair with blood oranges. For the entire month I was there, I gorged on them wherever I found them. Back home, I sought them out everywhere, usually without success. When I did find them, it was like a reunion with an old paramour – fleeting, but filled with sweet memories.

A few weeks ago, I came across a bushel of blood oranges in the grocery store. They looked like they’d been around the block a few times, but I bought some anyway. Out of a half dozen, only one was lovely and juicy inside. The rest were kind of dry and shrivelled up. Crap! I went to my fridge and pulled out a bottle of blood orange juice that I keep stashed in there to mix with Campari [4]. The bottle said “Fresh. Not from concentrate”. It also said that the juice came from oranges from Italy. Score! I figured that the best way to use this kind of juice was to make a sorbet with it, and that’s what I did. Yes, I know that it would be much better to use juice that I squeezed myself, but work with me! I’m doing the best I can! I can’t afford to be a snob.


Sorbet is one of the easiest things to make, and the payoff is big in terms of color and big, bold, fruity flavor. My sorbet was no exception. I infused some fresh basil and mint into the simple syrup and added a little lime juice and Cointreau [5]too. The result was beautiful to look at, and cool, smooth and delicious to eat. The blood orange flavor came bursting through. Definitely a success!
Sugar High Fridays was founded by Jennifer at The Domestic Goddess [6].

Blood Orange Basil Mint Sorbet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups blood orange juice
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons orange liqueur* (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the blood orange juice, basil and mint. Let steep for about 5 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and strain into a bowl. Chill completely.

Stir in the liqueur and freeze mixture in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once the sorbet is frozen, transfer to 1-quart container and store tightly sealed in the freezer for a few hours until firm.
Makes approximately 1 quart.

*The liqueur can be omitted from the recipe, if desired, but it is recommended to keep the sorbet from getting too hard and icy.