GUYS, do you know what is in season right now? Blood oranges! I’ve never infused them, but stay tuned. I’ve started watching Dexter and I’m always a little too fascinated by the opening credits breakfast scene, especially the orange and the mystery meat.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share one of the more pleasant surprises in infusion experimentation: the simple orange. I think I was surprised because let’s face it, while orange juice is nice, orange flavored anything is gross (especially skittles).
The zest is all we’ll be working with for this infusion–I recommend getting a cheap juicer for the rest as I also recommend using valencia oranges for this. You’ll also need a decent vegetable peeler.
What really makes this infusion special is it has all the amazing aromatic fruitiness of a high quality orange liquor (think Drambui, Gran Marnier, Triple Sec, etc.) with no sugar, leaving the sweetness level fully in your control. Many liqueurs are a higher percentage sugar syrup than alcohol.
- 2–4 ripe oranges, valencia recommended
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer orange peel of the fruit, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith.
- For every tablespoon of zest collected, use 1 cup vodka.
- Combine in a jar and store in a cool, dark place for 3–5 days. After 3 days, take a tiny taste each day (after a good shake) to test it out. Should have a strong orange flavor and aroma, and only a hint of bitterness (the longer it infuses, the more bitter it will get). Oh, it’ll also be really orange (see picture above).
- Pour through a metal strainer or coffee filter. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Note: You can also use dried orange peel, either by purchasing it directly or baking the peels at the lowest heat level for about 45 minutes. The end flavor will be a bit more bitter and have hints of caramel. Also, once you zest the orange, be sure to juice or eat it as they dry out/spoil pretty quickly once they lost their force field.
You can use orange infused vodka in place of triple sec or orange liqueur to reduce sweetness. You can also add a fresh, citrusy zest to a number of drinks.
- 2.5 oz orange infused vodka
- 1 oz pomegranate syrup or cranberry syrup (or juice if you like it much less sweet) [oops, I just realized I haven’t posted these yet–coming soon! For now, use 2 parts juice to 1 part simple syrup or buy a high quality cranberry syrup or grenadine in the stores]
- Soda water (optional)
Shake the first two ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a twist or a few cranberries or pomegranate seeds. Dilute the orange vodka with equal parts plain to lighten it up.
Also use to make a:
- Margarita (in place of triple sec)
- Kamikaze (in place of triple sec and also some of the vodka if desired) (or, with lime juice and sugar I guess)
- With soda water, tonic, or Sprite
- With cranberry, pineapple, or grapefruit juice
- To spike up sangria (use in place of triple sec & brandy, about a half cup total per bottle of wine)
Things coming soon: basic equipment, blood orange experimentation, fruit syrups, & throwing a tasting party.