The peak season for many types of oranges (including navels and Moro/blood oranges) is in the winter, but I recently learned that Valencias are a variety that grow throughout the summer.
When I realized Valencias are at their best right now, I decided to use them to make Vin D’Orange: a French invention that combines wine and citrus, and is embellished with a few other ingredients. I first heard of Vin D’Orange when I read Julia Moskin’s DIY Cooking Handbook, which appeared in The New York Times last March. I then looked up the Vin D’Orange recipe which Moskin references in Sally Clarke’s Book: Recipes from a Restaurant, Shop & Bakeryand I found a few other recipes for the apéritif with help from google (including this one from David Lebovitz and this one from Serious Eats). I made my own variation in the end, adapted from all of these sources.
Vin D’Orange is typically allowed to infuse for at least 2 weeks (or as long as 6). I figure if I made it earlier this week, I’ll taste it on July 4th, but won’t plan to drink it until mid-August or so. Once you strain out the fruit, you can add a little rum, transfer it to a clean glass bottle, and refrigerate it for a year or more (but I am fairly certain it will not last that long).
Recipe for Valencia Vin D'Orange
Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Ms. Clarke's recipe uses bitter Spanish Seville oranges, but here I have used a combination of Valencias and organic lemons. Clarke recommends refrigerating the Vin D'Orange (and shaking it every now and then to keep the sugar dissolved) for 6 weeks before adding rum and filtering it to a clean bottle (which can then be enjoyed for a year or more). This recipe should make about 1 quart.
*1/2 gallon Mason jar with screw top lid, sterilized by washing in the dishwasher
*3 Sunkist® Valencia oranges (I cleaned mine with an all-natural produce wash since they're not organic and you are using the peels in this recipe), sliced into thick "wheels"
*2 organic lemons, sliced into thick "wheels"
*1 bottle rosé wine
*1 cup vodka
*2/3 cup organic sugar
*2 cinnamon sticks
*1 vanilla bean, cut in half
*1 cup rum
1. Layer the sliced oranges and lemons in the glass jar, then add the sugar, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean.
2. Pour in the wine and the vodka, and screw on the lid. Shake well to dissolve the sugar.
3. Allow to stand in the refrigerator for two-six weeks, shaking every few days. Strain out the oranges, lemons, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean and funnel into clean glass bottle(s) with the cup of rum added. Strained Vin D'Orange can be refrigerated for one year or more.
4. Enjoy in small amounts as an apéritif, a wine-based drink meant to stimulate the appetite.
Valencia oranges may occasionally “re-green” in warm weather because the skin of the oranges reabsorbs chlorophyll. While the skin may be partially green and give the oranges an unripe appearance, rest assured that they are perfectly ripe inside (for more info, see the Sunkist Valencia Oranges Re-greening Video, and visit the Sunkist website for additional Sunkist citrus recipes).