My beautiful bottles of Blood Orangecello Liqueur.
Cold Blood Orangecello, Straight Up….
…or over ice garnished with berries & lemongrass. Very nice.
As it is Father’s Day I am going to tell this little story that has to do with my Dad.
I come from a family of bootleggers on my Father’s side of the family. I suppose it is okay to say this out loud after all these years. One of my many not so child appropriate memories is of going to visit some elderly Great Aunts & Uncles up in the country near Dover. I have no recollection of any of the Aunts, nor their cakes & pies or other homemade goodies made for our visit. Nor do I have any recollection of the Uncles themselves, just of going to see their “still” deep in the woods somewhere close to their houses. That I recollect like a film strip. It was a hot day, close & sticky, a day of mystery & deep greens. I watched quietly as Daddy & the Great Uncles studied the moonshine still and its’ output with reverence. There was a bit of tasting, but not for me. I liked the way the still looked, very purposefully random with copper tubing and large metal drums with pipes & drains, a gizmo to fascinate a curious child.On the way home I was cautioned to never mention to anyone about the still. I didn’t until today.
It must be in my blood as I so enjoy making batches of limoncello, vanilla extract, special cocktails in batches for dinner parties, turning fruit into liquers…this is what led me to remember going to see the still when I was a child. Just let me make this clear, in case anyone from the ATF is reading, I do not have a still at my house, but that does not stop me from my work. I use large mason jars, high proof vodka, sugar & fruit. This is how I made this beautiful batch of “Blood Orangecello”.
It takes a few weeks or months to complete a batch, but there is little work involved, just a lot of waiting. The wait is worth it every time. I start in deep Winter when citrus is abundant & cheap and by late Spring, early Summer my batch is ready to decant. Every now and then you need to swish it around in the jar and maybe take just a little taste to see how it coming along.
Here is what you will need:
6-8 ripe Blood Oranges
2 cups raw sugar
1 liter 100 proof vodka
Here is how you do it:
1. Wash & dry oranges. Carefully peel each orange taking care to not to remove any pith as you work.
2. Cut peeled oranges in half & juice each one.
3. In a large stockpot make a simple syrup using the 2 cups sugar & 1 cup water.Bring to a low boil, stirring until sugar is melted. Remove from heat.
4. Add the blood orange juice & the peels to the stockpot and stir to combine.
5. Pour the liter of vodka into the pot and stir to mix.
6. Ladle mixture with blood orange peels into a large glass mason jar. Cover with a tight -fitting lid. Place jar in a cool, dark place such as a closet floor for 6 weeks to 3 months. Every now and then swish the mixture around in the jar……and wait. (The first 6 steps were done in March.)
March, April, May….June…..
Time to decant. A couple of years ago I purchased an inexpensive bottle capper from All Seasons Garden Shop (they also sell everything to make beer and wine at home) on 8th Avenue South here in Nashville. I also get my little bottles by the case from them.
7. First remove the peels from the jar & toss out, then strain the blood orangecello through a fine sieve to remove most of the debris in the mixture. You will notice the liqueur has turned a deep, deep red color. That is fine & beautiful.
8.Carefully decant into clean bottles & cap (or you can use corks if you do not have a capper). That is all there is to it.
Blood Orangecello is delicious icy cold. I keep a few bottles in the freezer always ready to serve straight up, or over ice topped with fizzy water as well as drizzled over homemade vanilla ice cream or pound cake.
I am sure the Great Uncles and my Dad would look on this as child’s play. They would no doubt be right.