In December last year, our friend Deborah delivered about 50lbs of oranges from her father’s orange grove in East Texas to us, after we had been talking about making fruit liqueurs. Little did I know how much we were going to get. Unlike other fruit such as apples, peaches or berries, there is only so much you can make with that much oranges. About half of them were shipped to Bill to make marmalade, which still left me with more oranges than I needed, but the pints of freshly made orange juice were most welcome.
There are lots of commercial orange liqueurs on the market such as Curaçao, Grand Marnier and Triple Sec, but making your own is a lot cheaper and more satisfying in that you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. As with most home-made fruit liqueurs, the process is very simple, fruit, liquor (spirit), sugar and time. The method for my orange gin liqueur is slightly different, in that I only use the orange peel and not the fruit. With time, this produces a wonderful dark orange coloured liqueur, with a strong aroma of orange oil and a great ‘marmalady’ taste. Since there is no fruit in this liqueur, then there is no juice being added to the mix via osmosis, which could end up making a very strong finished product. Hence I add some water to the mix to compensate for this.
You could substitute gin in this recipe for some other spirit, such as vodka, but I prefer the aromatic botanicals that gin brings to the party. Whatever spirit you end up using, you don’t have to choose an expensive one. Just make sure that it is something you would drink on its own, or you might end up with something more akin to rocket fuel.
- 10 medium oranges, peeled
- 300g (10oz) of cane sugar
- 700ml (24 fl oz) of good, but not too cheap gin
- 300ml (10 fl oz) water
First find a clean, large, wide mouthed preserving jar with a tight fitting lid, that is at least able to hold 1 litre (34 fl oz) of liquid, sterilise it and the lid. Ensure that the oranges are clean, but be careful not to scrub the peel too hard, as you don’t want to lose the orange oils. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, carefully peel the oranges without removing too much pith. Place the peel from 10 oranges into a large wide mouthed preserving jar with a tight fitting lid. Add the gin, sugar and the water, then gently mix to ensure that the sugar is dissolved. Secure the lid, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months. Even longer is better. For a little more ‘wintery’ flavour you could add 3 or 4 cloves to the jar. Enjoy as an after dinner drink, an aperitif with soda before dinner, in cocktails or even a little poured over ice-cream.