Like any famous foods or beverages, trying to nail down the exact origin or to give credit to the exact person or region to where an item is famous, is sometimes nearly impossible. What is possible however, is to know that regardless of where this potent potable started, I think it's something you should start making with warmer weather on the horizon!
Now to be respectful, this is without question, a sipping beverage with Italian roots. intensely lemon-flavored liqueur (limoncello) most famously associated with and mostly produced in Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, and the island of Capri, but also very popular throughout all of Italy. In the north, it's often called, "limoncino". Here's a look at many of the commercial products available and trust me when I say, most are delicious! Trust me also when I say, yours will be even more brilliant and better!
Preparation is truly as simple as it gets. Be meticulous in the process, such as using super clean fruit to yield a finished beverage that will be simply outstanding. Originally made with lemons, it can also be made with oranges, tangerines, limes, or grapefruits. They are all equally delicious. In this version I've whipped up for you, I use equal parts of two kinds of citrus!
Now I was lucky enough to be sent a package of amazing oranges from Bream Family Farms (Lindsay, CA) with oranges harvested from their "Legacy Block" harboring trees that date back to 1912. Can you imagine the history? So with those oranges, I was able to prepare an Orange Olive Oil Cake, a batch of my famous Orange Chili Marmalade, and now this incredible beverage with two oranges left to enjoy as a snack! It's amazing how you can stretch food and max out it's flavor when you just put in a very small amount of effort! OK, so onto the recipe. Let's go!
I want to encourage you to invest in a "decent" vegetable peeler. There's a few styles that I prefer, one I will show here as it gives you beautiful leverage and the zest comes off the orange in a wide, uniform strip, capturing just the rind and leaving most of the bitter pith (white part) behind. That's because of the type of peeler and me applying consistent pressure while swiping along the fruit.
Next I want to emphasis that within this recipe, any plain flavored vodka will work. Grain alcohol too if you can find it, but since I wanted a soft cream flavor, I chose to pick up a modest priced "Whipped Cream" flavored vodka. Once you add the peels as per the recipe instructions, they will begin to immediately infuse and fully extract over the course of a few days and up to a week. You can let these peels hang out in the vodka for a month if you wanted but the majority of the infusing will occur within a good week. So just know that if you are eager to taste the finished product! But like anything worth having, give it the time to develop!
Next, strain the peels as cleanly as you can, using a filter, strainer, or cheesecloth. From there you'll add the sugar syrup and the "cello" is essentially done. Keep it stored in an airtight container or bottle. Here’s a shot after just resting for three hours, imagine a whole week!
So my suggestion to enjoy it to the fullest? Keep your finished citrus-cello in the freezer and serve a sipping amount over crushed ice or just on it's own in an ice cold frosty glass. You don't need very much to enjoy the perfumed beautiful flavor. It's intended to be enjoyed in small, delicious amounts! Here you go! Thank you again Bream Family Farms for the wonderful adventure in orange deliciousness!
- 1 bottle (750 ml) plain vodka, whipped cream flavored vodka, or grain alcohol
- 3 large oranges, washed well, rinds only
- 3 large lemons, washed well, rinds only
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups boiling hot water
- 2 clean empty bottles with lid to close tightly
Using a peeler, peel the rinds off the oranges and lemons (avoid the white part called the pith) and place them in a very clean container, bottle, or bowl large enough to hold them as well as the whole bottle of alcohol. Pour the bottle of alcohol over the peels. Cover the container and let it sit in a cool place for 7 days. At a weeks’ time, combine the sugar and hot water and boil until the sugar dissolves. Cool the syrup to room temperature. Using a clean metal strainer, strain the alcohol away from the rinds very carefully. Add the infused alcohol to the cooled syrup and using a funnel, bottle the finished drink.
Yields roughly two (2) 750ml bottles of finished beverage. The drink can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy!
(PS: You can find the recipes for the Olive Oil Cake and the Orange Chili Marmalade on my site! Just use the search feature at the top of the page.)