Blood orange soda is a refreshing and tasty beverage made from blood oranges. It has a beautiful dark pinkish-red color and a sweet, tart flavor. But what exactly gives blood orange soda its unique color and flavor? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that go into making this drink.
As the name implies, the key ingredient in blood orange soda is blood oranges. Blood oranges are a variety of orange with crimson-colored flesh. They get their vibrant color from the presence of anthocyanins, which are antioxidant pigments found in many red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables.
Compared to regular oranges, blood oranges have a more intense, berry-like flavor with raspberry or strawberry notes. They also tend to be lower in acidity and higher in sweetness. The anthocyanins provide some of the tartness, making for a well-balanced flavor.
The most common types of blood oranges used to make soda are Moro, Tarocco, and Sanguinello. Moro blood oranges have a bright red flesh and raspberry flavor. Tarocco is known for its rich, sweet taste and rose-colored flesh. Sanguinello has a juicy scarlet flesh with hints of berry flavors.
Since blood oranges on their own would make for a very tart soda, sweeteners are added to balance out the acidity. The most commonly used sweeteners in blood orange soda are:
White granulated sugar is frequently added to sweeten blood orange soda. Sugar smoothly enhances the flavors without overpowering them. Sometimes pure cane sugar is used to provide an extra hint of caramel flavor.
Corn syrup is glucose derived from corn starch. It prevents crystallization while giving blood orange soda a thick, viscous texture.
Some artisanal blood orange sodas use honey to lend some floral sweetness. Honey complements the fruit flavors nicely.
|Sweetens and enhances fruit flavors
|Thickens texture and prevents crystallization
|Adds floral nuances
The proportions and types of sweeteners are adjusted to achieve the right sweet-tart balance. Too little sweetener makes the soda very sour, while too much overpowers the blood orange taste.
The base of blood orange soda is carbonated water. The bubbly water gives the drink its refreshing, fizzy mouthfeel.
Plain or spring water is carbonated by dissolving carbon dioxide gas under pressure. Sometimes natural mineral waters containing sodium bicarbonate are used to achieve fizzy carbonation.
The amount of carbonation can vary from lightly fizzy to very effervescent. A more aggressive carbonation will make the flavors pop.
Some blood orange soda recipes will include additional ingredients to put a unique spin on the flavor:
Vanilla extract or vanilla beans infuse the soda with creamy, aromatic vanilla undertones.
Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove complement the tangy citrus notes.
Mint, basil, or rosemary can add an herbal nuance.
Orange blossom water or elderflower impart delicate floral highlights.
To extend the shelf life of blood orange soda and prevent microbial growth, very small amounts of preservatives are added. Common preservatives used include:
Sodium benzoate is a salt that inhibits bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Concentrations from 0.05 to 0.1% are typical.
Potassium sorbate stops fungi, yeasts, and molds from multiplying by disrupting their cell structures. It’s generally used at 0.03 to 0.15%.
Sodium citrate controls the acidity level, which prevents microbes from growing. Levels ranging from 0.01 to 1% are effective.
|Prevents bacteria, yeast, and mold growth
|Inhibits fungi, yeasts, and molds
|Regulates acidity to control microbial growth
Using minimal amounts of preservatives allows blood orange soda to stay stable and safe to drink.
Making Blood Orange Soda
Now that we’ve looked at the key ingredients, let’s briefly go through the main steps of producing blood orange soda:
Step 1 – Juicing the blood oranges
Blood oranges are washed, sorted, and squeezed to extract the colorful juice. The juicing method preserves the anthocyanins that give the juice its hue.
Step 2 – Adding sweeteners and flavorings
The desired sweeteners, herbs, spices, or essences are blended into the blood orange juice. Sweetener levels are carefully measured.
Step 3 – Mixing with carbonated water
The blood orange juice concentrate is combined with carbonated water and stired to evenly distribute.
Step 4 – Bottling
The finished blood orange soda is bottled hot to kill any microbes and maintain carbonation. Bottles are sealed airtight.
Step 5 – Pasteurization
Filled bottles are pasteurized by heating them to over 150°F to further sterilize the soda. They are then cooled down.
Step 6 – Preconditioning
Bottles are left to age for 1-2 weeks to allow flavors to meld and bubbles to stabilize.
After preconditioning, the bottles are ready to be labeled and shipped out for us to enjoy!
Blood orange soda contains just a few core ingredients that come together to make a uniquely refreshing drink. Blood oranges give it the namesake color and sweet-tart citrus flavor. Sweeteners like sugar or honey balance the acidity. Bubbly carbonated water gives it fizz. And supplemental flavors like vanilla and spices add complexity. A dash of preservatives allows the soda to stay stable after bottling. Understanding what goes into blood orange soda helps us appreciate how its special flavor is created. Next time you crack open a bottle, you’ll know exactly what you’re sipping!