Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI is a fresh citrus fruit obtained from the Tarocco, Moro and Sanguinello orange varieties, characterised by the presence of a natural pigment that gives the fruit its typical red colour, known as anthocyanin.
The environmental and cultivation conditions of the groves destined for the production of Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI must be those traditional of the area. The ripening period of the fruit varies from mid-December to May. The Tarocco variety is harvested between December and May. The Moro variety is harvested between December and February and the Sanguinello between February and April. Harvesting is carried out by hand with the use of special secateurs that cut the peduncle. Postharvest degreening is not permitted. This is an ethylene gas treatment that gives early season fruit the typical colour required for the oranges to be put on the market.
Appearance and Flavour
Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI is either round or egg-shaped; the flesh is orange with red streaks (Tarocco and Sanguinello varieties) or wine red (Moro variety). The minimum calibre of the fruit is 10 mm, with a diameter of between 60-68 mm. The product is rich in vitamins and beneficial substances that aid digestion and increase the metabolism, as well as prevent infections and cellular aging, thanks to the remarkable antioxidant qualities of the anthocyanins.
The production area of Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI is within the territory of several areas in the provinces of Enna, Catania and Syracuse, in the Sicily region.
Of Chinese origin, the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI was already widespread throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times, although it was mainly used for decorative or religious purposes. It only became popular in southern Italy during the XVII century, with the arrival of the Arabs, who were already aware of its healthy and dietary benefits. It is perhaps thanks to a certain Genoese missionary returning from the Philippines that dark red oranges arrived in Sicily, as indicated by the Jesuit, Ferrari (1646) in his book Hesperides. As one of the most well-known products during the Risorgimento battles in July 1860, the Count of Cavour, Camillo Benso, wrote the following in his telegrams: “The oranges are on our table and we are about to eat them. We have to wait for the macaroni, as they are not yet cooked”; he was referring to Sicily, which had already been occupied by the Garibaldine troops. Since the middle of the last century, the cultivation of blood-red oranges has played an increasingly important role in the Sicilian economy, both in terms of planted area and actual production.
Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI should be stored in a cool, dry place. It is excellent eaten fresh, in segments, freshly squeezed, or peeled by eliminating the white part near to the peel and the skin which separates the segments with a knife. It can also be used in the preparation of juices, marmalades, salads, sauces and liqueurs. The peel is used to make candied fruit, sauces and desserts. In cooking, Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI is used to aromatise poultry, pork and white fish.
Arancia Rossa di Sicilia PGI is distinguished by its unique red pigment, given to the presence of anthocyanin (above all Cyanidin-3-Glucoside), and by its high concentration of antioxidant substances.