Last week, my blogging friend, David from Cocoa and Lavender, shared his most recent post, Mandarinello, a mandarin orange version of limoncello that he first sampled in Italy. The beautiful orange color of David’s liqueur and the young clementine tree in our garden sent me to Wielka Księga Nalewek (The Big Book of Tinctures) and google translate to make my own Mandarynkowa a clementine liqueur.
Mandarin Orange, Tangerine, Clementine
I’ve known of Mandarin Oranges all of my life. They were tiny orange sections and came in a can. People put them in fruit salads. Tangerines were what I used to get in my Christmas stocking as a child. More recently, clementines have appeared in the markets.
Come to find out, they are all related. Mandarin is a class of orange that is flatter at the top and bottom, easy to peel, and tangerines and the seedless clementines are both varietals of mandarins. So my clementine liqueur can rightly be called Mandarynkowa.
There is nothing finer than the Polish pastime of making tinctures. All over the country, whatever fruit is in season is being steeped in vodka or something stronger with a little sugar. Time magically transforms the liquid, pulling the color and flavor from the fruit into smooth, jewel toned liqueurs.
We’re finishing off wisniowka, a cherry liqueur that I made two summers ago. It is the perfect end to the evening to pull a bottle out of the fridge and toast our friends around the table.
An afternoon of prep work offers big rewards. I’m sure we’ll sample our clementine liqueur at various stages, but I’ve found these things do improve with age. I used a combination of fruit from our tree and a bag of purchased clementines.
What a difference seating the two! Our clementines have a thick peel and fragrant zest. The purchased ones, not being as fresh, had a very thin peel. It was almost impossible to peel off the zest without getting some of the white pith. I worry that this will make this batch a little bitter.
I think next year, we’ll peel off the zest as we’re eating them and freeze the zest until we have enough to steep.
Since I made my clementine liqueur with vodka, which is not as strong as spyritus, I’m adding sugar and honey directly to the mix rather than making a simple syrup. I don’t want to further dilute my liqueur.
Here’s my version of Mandarynkowa, a clementine liqueur, from The Big Book of Tinctures, which I’m sure we’ll sip after dinner and probably use in mixed drinks as we would Triple Sec or Grand Marnier.
After two weeks, this is all that remains. It’s fabulous!
- 6 ripe mandarin oranges (clementines or tangerines)
- 1 liter spiritus
- 1 cup water
- 1¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from the mandarins
- Add zest and spiritus to a large jar
- Seal and store for two days
- Heat water, sugar, and honey until sugar dissolves
- Pour spiritus into another jar to remove the zest, add syrup
- Seal and store for two weeks
- Using a paper filter (paper towel or coffee filter) strain into another jar
- Seal and store for two and a half months before serving