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A simple recipe for making mandarin-infused vodka using citrus peels. This zero-waste tipple takes two weeks to make and can be used in cooking, cocktails, or in natural cleaning products. Make mandarin vodka in winter when mandarins and oranges are in season and inexpensive.
Vodka can be infused with all manner of delicious herbs, spices, and fruits, but one of the best infusions is with citrus peel, and it’s easy to make, too! At the end of the process, you’ll have a golden and citrusy drink that you can treat yourself with or give as a gift. The hardest part of this recipe is allowing the mandarin peels to infuse in the vodka for as long as possible. As soon as it takes on that gorgeous orange aroma, you won’t be able to wait to try it! The infused vodka won’t be sweet after you make the initial infusion. To make it into a sweet orange liqueur, follow the directions for making ‘Mandacello’ further down on this page.
Homemade liqueurs are a wonderful way to use fruit that’s in season and parts of the fruit that might go to waste. There’s a lot of flavor and color to use in citrus peels, and mandarins have some of the juiciest. If you’d like to, feel free to make this recipe using other types of citrus, including oranges, lemons, grapefruit, or calamondin.
Mandarin Vodka Recipe
- A pint of high-quality Vodka
- 3 Mandarins or two oranges
- A glass jar with a lid (I used a pint-sized preserving jar)
- Using a potato peeler, peel the colored bit of the mandarin peels off, trying to avoid as much of the bitter white pith as possible.
- Combine the peels with the vodka in the jar and place it in a dark cupboard for two weeks. Shaking the jar once a day will help disperse the essence from the peel into the liquor.
- The clear vodka will eventually take on a golden orange hue. Taste the vodka occasionally to judge the flavor, but remember there’s no sugar in it. It won’t taste like the flavored vodkas that you purchase just yet.
- Strain the vodka through linen, a coffee filter, or a paper towel into a clean glass bottle or jar.
Unflavored mandarin vodka is ideal to use as a homemade orange extract for baking and cooking and you can even use it in homemade kitchen spray. For a delicious and sweet liqueur, you can add a simple sugar syrup to it as described below.
Homemade mandarin vodka is the foundation for homemade mandacello, a version of limoncello but made with mandarins instead of lemons. To make it, you mix mandarin-infused vodka with with a simple sugar syrup. After it’s make, it’s best to refrigerate (or freeze) your Mandacello, but stored in a cool, dark place, it will keep for months due to the alcohol content. Some claim that homemade mandacello can last up to a year, but I doubt any would be left in my house long enough to test the theory.
- 2 cups unsweetened mandarin vodka
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup hot water
- Make mandarin vodka as described further above.
- Make a simple sugar syrup by combining the hot water and sugar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the vodka to the cooled sugar syrup and pour the mixture into a clean bottle. Allow the flavors to meld together for a week before serving.
- As a final touch, you can add a fresh strip of mandarin peel for decoration.