Friday, 29 June 2012

Orange Liqueur

I used to think fruit (and other flavoured) liqueurs were those fancy, exotic things that were well beyond my tiny culinary reach.
And then, I discovered how to make them. And improvise on the base. Now, all I need is a steady supply of pretty bottles and labels hinting at a smoky, mysterious sensuality to run my own wildly successful label. Till that happy day, however -- and on Sue's request -- this is how you make orange liqueur, a la Rimi. (Well, it's probably how you've always made it, but humour me.)

Peel about four oranges. You are, of course, welcome to peel more. Total freedom in the area of peelage, is my motto.

Scrape off the white skin/stuff from the inside of the skin. I do this with a spoon. You can use whatever exotic implement takes your fancy. By the time you're done, you will (a) smell the sharp, citrusy smell of orange peel. It's divine for a headache. (Although, now that I say that, I remember that I once met a woman whose headaches were trigged by the citrusy scent. She was probably half-fairy). And (b), the peels will be semi-translucent, and if you hold them upto sunlight, you'll see the network of tiny orange-oil pores, glistening and plump.

Now, either toast the peels covered on the lowest possible flame, or heat an oven to 250-300C for twenty minutes, put the peels inside, and turn down heat to the lowest. /After another twenty minutes, turn off heat entirely. Let peels stay in the hot oven for about 2 to 2.5 hours. Or longer, if you forget. I frequently forget. Either way, let the peels cool -- outside the oven this time -- for about six or seven hours. Overnight works well.

Finally, here's the crux of the recipe. Heat enough water to dissolve 400gms of sugar and still remain liquid (and not become syrupy). Dissolve said sugar, with bits of crushed cinnamon and maybe two lightly pounded cloves. You can do without the spices, mind. It's just how I like my  orange liqueur. 
Now, if you want a strong liqueur, add vodka after the sugar-water is off the flame. If you don't, add half while it is still on the flames. Add the rest when it's off the flame. In an air-tight glass jar, put the peels and the scooped, deseeded pulp of half the oranges (didn't see that coming, did you? Hah!) in. Top with sugared cinnamony vodka.

Let the whole think soak each other up for a month or six weeks, snugly sealed and in a cool, dark nook. Strain the stuff. Store. Daydream about sensuous labels. Donne!

It may not be the steamier metaphysicals, but it's quite the sweet intoxication.

1 comment:

Dea-chan said...

I'm fancy enough that when I peel citrus I wind up not getting pith. (*preens)

I have a batch of limoncello hiding from the sun in the oil and vinegar cupboard as we speak. It might be time to strain and add sugar...