For our liqueurs festival last month, I decided to make something special – tangerinecello. Modeled after some favorite recipes for lemoncello and limecello, this version uses the bright, fresh, distinctive flavor of tangerines and locks them into bottled sunshine. It’s a bit of work, but totally worth the effort!
I made two different batches, one with Honey Bell tangerines and one with a variety of other types, so in my pictures you’ll see two sets of everything. In the end, I liked the Honey Bell (Minneola) variety best, but found that the honey tangerines and starburst varietals added some interesting dimension as well. Use whichever ones you like best, and make sure you get ones that have nice-looking peel.
You will need:
• 2 cups Neutral Grain Spirit (190 proof)
• 7 – 8 fresh, ripe Tangerines
• 3 cups White Sugar
• Clean glass infusion jar
• Clean glass syrup holder
• Clean container for finished batch (10 cups in total/80 oz)
• Tools: Fruit peeler, paring knife, cutting board, citrus press or juicer, measuring cup
Step 1: Prepare the Fruit (Day 1)
Wash the fruit thoroughly but quickly. Use a produce wash if you have it, as well as a produce scrub brush – you want to get off dirt & wax to the extent possible so it doesn’t end up in your cello.
Step 2: Peel the Fruit (Day 1)
Try to get all the peel you can from 5 to 6 of the tangerines, and avoid the white pith beneath – the pith will create bitter flavors in your cello. Pro tip: certain types of tangerines, such as Minneolas/Honey Bell/Tangelos, peel very easily with a vegetable peeler, whereas other types (such as honey tangerines & starburst tangerines) peel more like oranges, so you’ll need to go back through with a paring knife to remove any pith that came along on the peel.
Step 3: Infuse the Spirit – Part I (Day 1)
Put the peel into a clean glass infusion jar and top with the neutral spirit, then put on the lid. Shake vigorously to fully cover all surfaces of the peel with the spirit. After this process, if some of the peel is above the spirit, press it down so that the peel is fully submerged. Let the spirit infuse for a few days, up to 5 days.
Step 4: Prepare the Syrup (Day 1)
Juice the fruit that you peeled, as well as the other tangerines. Measure the juice – you should have about 2 cups of juice. If needed, add a bit of water to reach 2 cups. Put the juice in a non-reactive saucepan, and add 3 cups of sugar. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Cool completely, then store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator.
Step 5: Infuse the Spirit – Part II (Day 5 or 6)
Add 2/3 cups water to your infusion – you will extract additional flavors by dropping the proof. Reshake the infusion jar, and make sure the peels are submerged in the liquid. Continue the infusion process for a few more days, up to 2 weeks.
Step 6: Strain out the Peels (Day 10, or later)
Strain the citrus peels out from your infusion, and return your infusion to your glass jar.
Step 7: Blend your Tangerinecello (Day 10, or later)
In your larger batch container, add your syrup and your water and stir well/shake to mix. Allow this mixture to get to room temperature before adding the spirit (this will help reduce clouding of the spirit, but you will still get some clouding). Stir well or shake to mix.
Enjoy! Or store in the refrigerator! It is about 20% alcohol by volume now, just so you know.