Putting food in jars is not instant gratification. It’s not like cooking supper, when you’ll know right away whether you’ve been successful. Sometimes you have to wait a few months to know if you guessed right and a whole year before you can make another attempt. It’s really no different from gardening in that sense, where it pays to keep notes. I make vin d’oranges – an intensely flavored orange aperitif — most every year but by the time that it’s ready to discuss, the season for the best citrus has passed. With citrus, which is pretty available, there’s more of a chance that if you write about something, your readers might not have to wait until next year to try it. This concoction cures in about 40 days. (On this topic, the most frustrating fruits are cherries since the local harvest happens once a year over a few-day period but marinating or pickling takes months before you have anything to taste.)
The photo here is of the finished vin d’oranges that I made last year. I deviated from my normal method and I regretted it since the drink became cloudy due to the fact that I ground the oranges instead of slicing them. I must have thought I would get more “essence” from them, but what I got was murky though completely and utterly delicious. It was also paler and less colorful because of the type of oranges that I used. I would love to try this with Cara Cara or blood oranges, both of which are reddish.
Serve the vin d’oranges very cold in small glasses. You can also add some seltzer, which makes it a kind of boozy Orangina or Aranciata. So this year I went back to the basic recipe that I adapted from Chef Daniel Boulud’s writing in Food & Wine Magazine.
Vin d’Oranges adapted from Daniel Boulud
2-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid
2 organic navel oranges, washed and thoroughly dried
1 organic Meyer lemon, washed and thoroughly dried
1 vanilla bean
½ c granulated white sugar
¼ c water
5 cups white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 c kirschwasser
Slice the oranges and the lemon in half vertically and then cut into horizontal slices about ¼-inch thick. Cut each slice into three little fan-shaped pieces. Add them to the jar as you go along.
Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the jar. Cut the bean pod into four pieces and add to the jar.
Meanwhile, make “simple syrup” by bringing the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
Combine the cooled simple syrup with the wine and kirschwasser and pour over the citrus in the jar. Clamp on the lid and store in the refrigerator for at least 40 days before using. You can decant the liquid then or whenever you’re ready to serve it.
Makes about 1½ quarts of aperitif.