My favorite thing about Wednesdays is the New York Times Dining and Wine section. A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for Cara Cara Citrus Liqueur that caught my eye. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cara Caras, they are a cross between a naval orange and grapefruit. They have a beautiful red hue and and a pleasant sweet flavor. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw the recipe turn up in the Times. I have been meaning to make it for a little while and finally got around to it this weekend. I stayed pretty true to the recipe since it was my first time making it although I did make a few alterations.
The recipe calls for 8-10 oranges, which should yield 1 cup of strained juice. Maybe my oranges were just particularly juicy but I used only 5 oranges and got a yield of 2 cups of strained juice. Since I had more juice than expected, I reduced the sugar amount from 4 cups to 3 cups.
I kept one batch of the liqueur unadulterated and simple: citrus rind, juice, sugar, and vodka. For the other batch, I thought it would be interesting to add in a little cinnamon to add a little depth of flavor. If it works out, I may experiment with some other spices and flavors—cloves or nutmeg could be interesting and it would also be fun to try infusing some herbs such as basil or mint. Things to try next time!
The liqueur needs about a month or two to fully develop its flavors so this is not a recipe for the impatient. On the plus side, the recipe does produce quite a high yield so your efforts should keep you well supplied for awhile. Check back here in a about a month for an update and Cara Cara-infused cocktail recipes!
Cara Cara Citrus Liqueur
Adapted from the New York Times, April 4, 2012
- 5 Cara Cara oranges
- 3 C. sugar
- 1 C. water
- 3-4 C. vodka
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks (optional)
- Sterilize 2 glass quart jars, with lids, by running them through the dishwasher or immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. With a vegetable peeler, remove the peel, not the pith, from 4 or 5 oranges. Place 1 1/2 ounces of peel in each jar. If desired, add cinnamon sticks to one or both jars.
- Juice all the oranges to yield about 2 1/2-3 cups of liquid. Press the juice through a fine strainer to remove pulp and seeds. You should have about 2 cups.
- In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Add the juice to the sugar syrup in a steady stream, stirring continually. Bring the flavored syrup back to a boil, then pour half into each jar.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely (this can take awhile). Pour 1 1/2-2 cups of vodka into each jar. Cover and shake the jars well, then tuck them into the back corner of a closet. After one month, strain the liquid. Pour the citrus liqueur into decorative bottles with caps or corks. It will be ready to drink, but will become even more flavorful after another month.
Yield: 2 quarts.
Total Time: 2 hours.
Active Time: 30-40 mins.Source: