Ever since my mother gave me a crate of oranges and other goodies,
she's been helping me dream up recipes.
She almost convinced me to try my hand at marmalade. Then she remembered an easier pound cake recipe that my Mimi baked every week. Our family never tired of it--in fact, we'd stand up and clap when she brought it into the dining room.
"You'll need orange extract," my mother said.
I had homemade vanilla extract, and a tiny bit of lemon, but I couldn't find orange.
"Make your own," Mother suggested. "Just use the rinds from that winter salad you made."
I'll wait impatiently for the extract to steep, then I can make Mimi's cake.
Homemade Orange Extract
1 cup good-quality vodka
jars and lids
Peel and zest 2 oranges, taking care not to remove the bitter pith. Sterilize jars, then add zest and peel. Using a (sterilized) funnel, add vodka to the jars, just covering the zest. Cap the jars. Place in a cool, dark room and let steep for at least a month, turning the jars every day. When your extract is ready, strain the liquid (peel/zest, too) through a cheesecloth into a large sterilized Mason jar (or other jar). Discard the peel and zest (toss it down the garbage disposal).Transfer strained extract into smaller sterilized jars and seal. Discard after 6 months.
A few notes. You can leave the zest and peel in the extract, but the flavor may become too intense. Just check it frequently. You can cut the recipe in half or double it. In fact, good cooks won't even need a recipe. Just toss the zest and peel into a super clean jar and add vodka. Some folks use rum or even Grand Marnier (which has a hint of orange). Because I use orange extract infrequently, I bought small jars.
Homemade orange extract makes a darling hostess gift.
If you have leftover oranges, you can make a fragrant, non-toxic cleaning solution. I am allergic to most household cleaners, and I buy "all natural" sprays, such as Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day.
Just put the scraps in a large glass jar and add vinegar. If desired, add five drops of Essence of Orange Oil. Put on the lid and let the solution steep in a dark, cool room for two weeks, shaking daily. [You might want to write down the date on your calender.] When your solution is ready, discard the peels and run them through the garbage disposal. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. And that's it!
Or a tangerine cake or a flourless orange cake.
Something sweet and warm and sunny.