Inspired by the beautiful blood oranges that are still available at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, we decided to make some blood orangello (a variation on the Italian limoncello/orangello) to help kick start the impending summer. I have made limoncello before with some of my favorite citrus, but it’s the delicate blood orange version that I often have a hankering for.
Orangello is incredibly easy to make. All you really need for the base is a couple dozen small oranges, a good microplane zester, an air-tight jug, simple syrup, and a whole lot of patience. You can use your choice of clear liquors (vodka, gin, or grain alcohol like Everclear), but I like to use a neutral-tasting vodka for a more delicate result. Absolut 100 does the trick without breaking the bank. The quality of the vodka does not need to be anything too fancy, but it is recommended that your spirit have a proof of 100 or more so that the mixture does not freeze when the simple syrup is added later on.
I have put my own spin on the simple orangello recipe by using high-quality, organic blood oranges. I also make a blood orange simple syrup as to not waste the wonderful juice — this gives it a really bright punch of flavor at the end, making it all the more flavorful. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it yields enough juice to use for the recipe and enough left over to store blood orange simple syrup for other uses including cakes, Italian sodas, and cocktails.
Part I: Carefully zest 20 small organic blood oranges without digging too deep as to penetrate the white rind/pith. Steep zest in one 750ml bottle of vodka or grain alcohol in an air-tight glass jar for 3-6 weeks. Store in a col dark place and avoid shaking or opening it. Quarter and juice the remaining oranges (as not to waste them) and strain. 20 small oranges should yield about 2 cups of orange juice. Store the juice in a small container or follow the recipe below to make a delicious blood orange syrup.
Simple Syrup Recipe (as adapted from Martha Stewart):
2 cups of sugar (organic cane sugar)
Zest of 1 blood orange or lemon
1 cup of fresh blood orange juice
[Double up this recipe and use half for orangello and half for other uses]
Heat sugar, zest, and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Pour through a fine sieve into a medium bowl; discard solids. Let cool completely. Stir in juice.
Part II: After the desired amount of time (I wait between 20-30 days), strain orangello base through cheese cloth or good quality coffee filters into a deep bowl. If there are many particles in the liquid, strain 2 or 3 more times until filtered well. Stir in blood orange simple syrup until well incorporated, then carefully bottle orangello in air-tight glass bottles. Store in freezer for up to 6 months. Enjoy very cold or used as a mixer in cocktails and hard lemonades.