Many families throughout Italy and Sicily make their own limoncello, the famous Italian lemon liquor. There was a time when this digestivo (after dinner drink) was difficult to find but it is now readily available in most markets. What you won’t find however, is the orange liquor, known as arancello. Typically, this libation is made with blood oranges but, I used what I have growing in the yard (I think they are navel oranges).
This is a simple recipe and the perfect time of year to capture the bright flavor of winter’s oranges. Although, this delightful drink is a fitting ending to any Italian meal, the refreshing taste of icy-cold arancello, leisurely sipped with friends, is a Sicilian summertime favorite!
- 1/2 liter pure grain alcohol (everclear or vodka)
- 2 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 1/4 cup water
- 6 organic oranges, thick-skinned
- Find a large glass jar with a lid. Several years ago, I purchased 2 large jars filled with whole dill pickles. I gave my neighbor (who loves pickles) the majority of the jar’s contents just so I could have the jars. These are the jars I always use for making limoncello and arancello.
- Rinse the oranges and pat dry.
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer part of the orange rind, being careful not to include the bitter white part underneath, known as the pith.
- Pour the alcohol into the jar and add the orange peels. Screw on the lid and set the jar in a cool dark place. Leave it undisturbed for 21 days. The alcohol is absorbing the flavor and beautiful orange color of the peels. Tutto quello che serve e la pazienza (All that is needed is patience).
- After 21 days, you can now prepare the simple syrup. Using a saucepan, combine the sugar and water until dissolved and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Strain the peels from the jar and discard. Add the orange-flavored alcohol to the cooled simple syrup. Using a funnel, pour into bottles. Like limoncello, arancello should be stored in the freezer and will keep for several months. Due to the high alcohol content, it will not freeze solid. This liquor is always served icy-cold in small glasses. For crema di arancello, add a bit of heavy cream to each glass. It reminds me of the creamsicles we had as kids (vanilla ice cream on a stick covered with orange-flavored ice).