Saturday, February 10, 2007


"He hangs in shades the orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night."
- Andrew Marvell, "Bermudas".
Walking back from the butcher's in dull weather this morning, and pondering, again, upon the fact that meat is slightly more expensive in Italy, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks at the sight of the delightful array of goods displayed outside our new greengrocer's [ where, I am happy to tell you, the awning is now in place]: piles of purple broccoli and heaps of young artichokes just teemed from a trestle table and a lorry-load of arance alla vaniglia or arance dolci [sweet oranges] had just arrived.
I had never, ever, tasted anything like a Sicilian sweet orange until I came here: they really do have the perfume and taste of vanilla and when they are fresh off the tree, as these were, the scent is heavenly. I can't describe it; you will just have to come and taste them for yourselves! Moreover, the texture of the skin is nothing like that of the oranges you find in Britain, where it is compared to cellulite; it is, instead, a pleasure to touch and only slightly bumpy.
I got the lot in the picture for just €1.50 so that makes up for the price of meat!
My next project is to make Ratafia di arance liqueur using this recipe which kind Chiara gave me at Christmas:
3 - 4 ripe oranges
1 litre alcohol 45-50% proof [if you are making this in Britain you will have to use vodka.]
1 kg sugar
half litre water
Peel the oranges and squeeze out the juice. Put the peel, juice and any remaining pulp into a wide, glass container with the alcohol or vodka. Seal and leave for 10 days.
After 10 days, boil the water and sugar together to make a syrup. Let it cool.
Strain the orange mixture and add the syrup to the liquid.
Re-seal the container and leave it all for 2 weeks before straining it again and bottling.
Then leave it alone for 1 month!
I'll let you all know how this turns out.


Anonymous said...

Sounds very boozy but good for you (the citrus content?).

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi again, Shirl. Well, you wouldn't be drinking much of it, smooth though it is, I can tell you! I like to have a stash of home-made liqueurs to offer friends at the end of a meal. In Britain, my speciality was a damson gin, but you can't get damsons here. I used to make it with my Mum, years ago.

sally said...

Those Oranges look good enough to eat...... :-)

Janejill said...

Hi I have just found you on Ellee's blog; I have only read a little of your blog but, lucky you, to live in Sicily! I have only visited there once, for 4 days over New Year (loved the atmosphere, apart from the fireworks going off everywhere!) we ended up in, what the Rough Guide described as an old Mafia hotel - shabby grand with lots of serious tummies and suits; we shook hands with Everyone, at midnight! (just in case) excellent photos - I'm teetotal (for my sins) do you have any interesting drinks for such as me?!

Lee said...

Those oranges look so delicious, Welsh. I eat so many oranges. I always have. I have four a day...I buy them by the bag. I wanted to jump through my monitor when I saw those in your pic!

Another way to make that liquer, Welsh, is to just thread a piece of cotton thread (or silk) through the fruit, leaving the fruit unpeeled and let it hang in the alcohol. Let us know how it turns will have no problem.

james higham said...

Yes, that would see you through the evening all right. Now, where's my whisky?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Sally. Yes, they are!
Janejill, nice to meet you. Yes, the New Year fireworks get a bit hairy here! Sicilians are very good at making soft drinks, among them refreshing almond milk: 1lb blanched almonds, 1 litre water, a few drops good almond extract, 1 tablesp sugar. Chop the almonds in a processor then add the water and process to a purée. Add the extract. Strain through a muslin-lined sieve, add the sugar [of which you can use less if you prefer] and mix well. Chill and serve with ice cubes. It will only keep a day or two. Note: Sicilians use some bitter almonds in this. I'm not sure if you can get them in the UK and I believe they are illegal in the US.
Lee, that's an interesting method. Perhaps I'll try that nest time.
Cheers, James!

MoragTheMindbender said...

This is my car........ you see what I think of oranges :) I must make this liquer and keep a flask in the glove compartment! Thanks!

Liz said...

Those oranges sound absolutelty fabulous. Are they easy peelers too?

Ellee said...

I would love to eat the oranges just as they are, one of my favourite deserts is caramilsed oranges.

Ellee said...

I would love to eat the oranges just as they are, one of my favourite deserts is caramilsed oranges.

JaneJill, your trip to Sicily sounds fun, I think Welshakes is going to find many of us bloggers turning up on her doorstep one day to sample her cooking.

Janejill said...

I can't wait to try the almond drink - thanks indeed; my daughter's boyfriend (and future son-in-law I hope) is Italian so I will ask him to get bitter almonds on his next visit - more interesting (why illegal in USA I wonder? ) Good idea Ellee - springtime in Sicily?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Morag. Love the orange car! Liz, yes, easy peelers too. I love caramelised oranges too, Ellee. You fellow-bloggers would be very welcome! Hi, janejill. I read somewhere that bitter almonds contain a small amount of arsenic [!]and that is why they are banned in the USA. Glad you like the recipe.


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