So I made another attempt at making an orange liqueur that captures what it truly feels like to be an orange. Once again I failed at the impossible but, lucky for you, I've got a couple new tips.
First up, when it comes to zest, more is better. This time I used the zest of ten oranges removed with a vegetable peeler. Instead of peeling them all at once and having to throw out oranges because I couldn't eat them all before they got crusty, I peeled one every morning and added it to the jar of vodka at my breakfast table. Because of that the steep time on this batch is hard to calculate, but the time from first orange to straining was 21 days. Judging from the difference in color between the first and last oranges it needed to steep a little longer. It is probably a good idea to wait two weeks after the last orange. There is no risk of over steeping.
Afterwards I mixed a test sample 50/50 by weight with rich sugar syrup (recipe in this post). It was good, but I was curious if the Blendtec could make it any better. I blended it on high for 30 seconds or so and then strained it with some cheesecloth.
Let me tell you, cheesecloth is so much more efficient than using strainers (or coffee filters as my friend likes to use). I used this cheesecloth I bought off of Amazon. I cut off a square leaving the factory fold in it (so it was about four layers thick) and put it in the bottom of a collender. After the cloth started getting clogged I picked it up, made a little satchel out of it, and wrung out the remaining alcohol into the collection jar. I placed the resulting golf ball sized lump of zest in a bowl and started straining again.
After all the straining I mixed it 50/50 by weight with rich sugar syrup and poured a glass on the rocks to try. (It is much better chilled.) It was better than the first batch. Not amazingly better, but it tasted a little closer to orange candy than orange juice. I wonder if there's any limit to the more is better rule for zest.