There are many new and surprising pleasures about this new world. High on the list is abundant and fresh citrus. This time of year, oranges, lemons, and limes hang heavy on all of the local trees. We have been getting plenty of satsumas in our CSA box so that inspires creativity. I’ve always loved limoncello and wanted to see if I could create a different version using satusuma skins. I infused vodka with the rind from the satsumas for two weeks and the vodka adopted a lovely orange-golden hue. I flirted with the idea of adding sugar to make it an after-dinner drink, but I fell in love with the bright orange simplicity. Instead, we left it unsweetened and used it to make delicious cocktails. We added it to sparkling wine, with a sugar cube and it made an elegant champagne cocktail. My favorite preparation was to serve it on ice, with some crystallized ginger rubbed along the rim and dropped into the drink to mingle. I’ve included a recipe to make the full sweetened satsumacello, but if you wanted to try the unsweetened version, simply seal and drink before you add the sugar step. Its a little ray of sunshine to brighten the winter months.
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the satsumas in long strips (reserve the fruit for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the peels; discard the pith. Place the peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the peels in the vodka for 4-14 days at room temperature.
Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the satsumacello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the satsumacello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month