Friday, September 19, 2008

Slipping Summer

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Hello, denizens of Erin's Kitchen. J here. The sun's setting earlier in the evening, the breeze is carrying a hint of menace, so hanging onto the last shreds of summer is the correct response for northerners. Erin and I are doing our part by consuming the remains of our homemade vin d'orange.

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A couple years ago, Erin picked up a book entitled Aperitif by Georgeanne Brennan, a book devoted to the virtues of the aperitif and containing several recipes for vins du maison. I decided it was time to put the book to use and kept a sharp lookout for bitter oranges this spring. One night I struck pay dirt and bought a couple dozen at Fairway.

Here's the basic recipe:

6 2/3 bottles of a dry rosé or white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc); avoid anything too heavy, but don't abandon structure entirely
1/2 qt vodka
1 pound (2 cups) granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans (whole)
1 lemon, cut into pieces
peels from 6 bitter oranges (aka Seville oranges)

Combine everything in a clean crock or jar and cover. Store in a cool, dark place for a month, and give it a good shake every day for the first week to dissolve the sugar.

After aging, strain the wine through several layers of cheesecloth in a mesh sieve and discard all the solids. Sterilize some wine bottles in boiling water, ladle the vin d'orange into the bottles using a funnel, and cork. Store the bottles in a cool dark place for a couple months, then enjoy; the author warns they won't last the year. Serve chilled or with ice.

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That's the idea anyway. I'm drawn to projects like this, but those who know me know all too well that my initial fire cools quickly. Fortunately, this is a wonderfully forgiving recipe. I had one jar sit around for 2 months before I bottled it one hectic night. A week later, the result was delicious, and has been since. The second crock remains in a cool, dark place, for bottling some night this week; I'm sure it will be fine.

Erin will tell you I can't make a recipe straight up, and she's right. I added a few whole star anise fruits into the concoction. It is a noticeable flavor in the wine, and I recommend similar tinkering wholeheartedly. The wine is sweet up front but with a bitter finish. In addition to the orange, there's a lot of vanilla, and the star anise helps temper that a bit. Next summer I might try adding cloves or cardamom. Since the rosé was fortified with the vodka, it has a proof similar to a port; but don't expect it to taste like a fine tawny or, on the other end of the spectrum, like a sweet ice wine. It's more like a Lillet with a Campari chaser.

We purchased 375mL bottles and corks over the internet as well as a simple corker thingy. The corks were definitely easier to push through if they'd soaked in the boiling water for a bit, and the smaller bottles have worked well for gifts -- not to mention that since they barely fit in our largest pot, we would not have been able to sterilize 750mL bottles.

9 comments:

Chubbypanda said...

Now that's the way to usher in Fall!

Caleb D said...

Boiling water is not necessary. Next time just make sure the bottles are clean and use a iodophor iodine based solution to rinse sanitize the bottles. Works great and is very cheap. It can be found at any homebrew or vintner supply store.

Anah and Dan said...

nice to see you're not a total waste of space, j. hopefully you craft something delicious for the holiday season so we can enjoy more at christmas.

spadamchrist said...
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robin @ cavair and codfish said...

Hi, I just found your blog though Sean and Paul at Hedonia and I'm so glad! I just love when people showcase recipes that are rare and a bit unusual. I'll be on the lookout for bitter oranges this year. Thanks.

Bob LaGatta said...

I don’t know on how I stumbled upon this cooking blog., All I know is that I’d better check out the archives for a good read. Ha-ha! Just droppin’ to say hi!
Oh. You might want to check this out: http://www.technocooks.com for uhm...a different "menu."

Christina said...

Very, very cool. Must find bitter oranges . . ..

Thanks for the inspiration!

Andy Guo said...

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Thanks again and looking forward for more of your posting soon!

Hugh said...

It won't really have effect, I think this way.
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