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Just a thought

It’s possible to make wine from just about any liquid that contains sugar, right? Sorta, at least.

So, it’s possible to make orange wine (no, not qhite grape wine where the skins are left in for a bit, but wine from oranges). Further, if you can make wine then it’s possible to make a brandy.

There are orange brandies and triple sec and so on. But none of them are an eau de vie properly made from the original fruit. They’re all varied types of booze with orange added.

So, why isn’t orange brandy made?

Human experience is such that someone must have tried – we’re in a reverse Chesterton’s Fence here, our question is why the thing doesn’t exist. So, why doesn’t it work?

18 thoughts on “Just a thought”

  1. ‘Sunshine Orange Brandy is made completely from oranges and their juice and nothing else’.

    At least so they claim.

  2. Too much citric acid? Though you could neutralise that somewhat with lime or even sodium hydroxide. Perhaps the pith makes the whole thing far too bitter.

    You are in the right place to experiment – must be a few spare citrus fruits lying around.

  3. Fermentation requires yeast to flourish. My experience with the juice of oranges is if left for a while at room temperatures you get some black lumps form in it & bad smell. That doesn’t sound like yeast to me. As per TG, I’d guess wrong Ph. And correcting the Ph doesn’t do the taste of oranges any favours.
    It’s the same with oranges that go over-ripe. They start to taste bad. Definite hint of sewage about them.

  4. Considering the surplus of oranges here at the end of the growing season. Tons get thrown away. If there was some way of utilising them, they’d have been utilised. They’ve had a couple of millennium to experiment.

  5. You would think that the oil from the skin would be worth recovering. There’s quite a market for bergamot oil which is similar.

  6. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Maybe becauuse of that generic natural flora thing. If they don’t have natural yeasts that make good wine (like grapes) then perhaps even added yeasts aren’t going to out compete the natural flora.

    So your starting point would have to be a pasteurized or sterilized orange juice, which has not been around for millennia. IIRC it is a pretty recent innovation, precisely to deal with the problem BiS mentions. And then had to be marketed to us by the big orange juice interests, with claims of being healthy, one of your “five a day”, a way to get your kids to actually consume fruit, etc.

  7. @BiS The smell and taste you describe of oranges gone off is any of the varieties of the Penicillum mold, which, indeed, smells.
    The black stuff is any of the local varieties of Ascomycetes, aka “sooty mold”. Possibly cellar mold given that that stuff is everywhere and can live on just about anything depending on the variety. ( and the bane of any lab.. The stuff is..tenacious..)

    As for tossing yeast in citrus juice.. Good luck with that. pH is way too low for the yeast to grow. Plus the juice holds so much vitamin C that it’s actually toxic to yeasts, and not enough of the B’s to make them happy. And, believe it or not.. not that much fermentable sugars.
    Yeast likes a slightly acidic environment, so citrus juice does get used to start fermentation batches, but only in small quantities.
    And not even in the classic recipies. Sour cherries, sour apples, and sour grapes were used in the Olden Days to make mead, and kickstart beers ( for a given definition of “beer”, depending on the culture/time period..), for instance.
    Citrus juice is a modernism and an Abomination Unto Nuggan in the circles I frequent. I agree with the Nugganites on this.

    So fermenting is out, thus you get the range of infusions in distilled alcohol. Because people being people.. They did try..
    Because what people want is the smell of oranges, which isn’t in the pulp or juice, but in the etheric oils in the skin. Hence the orange peel, which featured in cooking recipes pretty much as soon as they were introduced, and took root in perfume-making not much later. After that it was only a matter of time before some apprentice tried drinking the stuff (alcohol-based…), and the rest is history.
    In fact, historically, when it comes to citrus fruits, the peels were seen as food, and the fresh juice as medicine. Not surprising when you realise that the old cultivars contained far less sugar than the modern sweet stuff…

    Orange/lemon peel extract is, for a reason, commercially extracted and sold. The real, natural, concentrate is actually pretty nasty and agressive ( and ‘spensive..). You *really* want to wear gloves and use a well-ventilated space handling that stuff.. Then again.. It’s meant to be used in dilutions of 1:many-thousands, so not surprising. And a ton of sugar to counteract the bitterness..
    Although for your average hobbyist it’s easier to source a kilo or some of really fresh oranges, and DIY the extract, or simply toss the peel in as you let things settle and ripen.

    But alcohol from orange juice? You’d have to toss in so much fermentable sugars ( and water..) that it would only be a minor component in the end.

  8. Matthew…. look at the recipes in the article…

    Then compare to my statement:

    But alcohol from orange juice? You’d have to toss in so much fermentable sugars ( and water..) that it would only be a minor component in the end.

    .With the other “ingredients” you’re not making citrus wine, you’re fermenting sugar water with enough citrus juice in it to acidify the batch, and possibly add some taste. ( for which the peel is actually used in the grapefruit recipe…)

    OK, it’s written by a US-ian, so….. but wine? Only by US-american definitions.
    Lions!! Rabid Badgers!! The french would re-introduce the guillotine for the sheer notion, and they’d be right for a change…

  9. Hmmm… you’re running into a technical issue as well if you want to make brandy out of oranges.

    If you accept the US-ian citrus “wine” as stock for distillation, even if you add rind for flavour/scent during the process, you’d lose most of it.
    The thing is that the aromatics that make up the smell/flavour are very volatile and will already come out in the distillation pre-run ( which you really don’t want in there..) with the stuff that’s less volatile mostly comes out in the post-run ( again..toss.. unless…well… slow way to suicide..).
    You’re effectively removing all things Citrus during the distillation step if you do it right.

    So if you want citrus in brandy, you’d have to infuse it at a later/intermediate stage.
    So.. keeping to the US-ian method.. Buy stock wine alcohol, take a stainless steel container**, toss in citrus peel and sherry cask/oak chips. Wait for a year. Try.

    ** Rich buggers may actually be able to source a real oak cask, or even a proper used sherry cask. I sure as hell can’t afford one.

  10. When I was a youth, we had a house built in the remains of an orange Grove.* The remaining tree was very prolific, so we squeezed and froze a lot of orange juice. If the orange juice was left in the back of the fridge for too long it started to ferment. It got bubbly with a sharper bite to it. Didn’t taste great.

    *For those who English as a living, why is it ‘orange grove’ instead of ‘orange orchard’?

  11. The internet tells me “When referring to food crops, grove most often refers to groups of citrus or nut trees. A grove is a small group of trees without underbrush, especially trees that bear fruit, says the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.”

    We used to enjoy the McLaren Vale wines of a chap called Haselgrove; I suppose his ancestors must have owned one.

  12. OK… Got to give it to our Host…..

    “Can you make “Eau de Vie” out of (straight) orange juice.”


    Verrah, verrrrah tricky to do , even with the modern brewer’s toolkit(s).

    Commercial? Forget it. Willy Waving Potential….. Max.

    Put it on my list of “to try”. But honestly… mrrrrrr’nf… Tricksy….

  13. I’m busy making a batch of orange wine right now. I’ll try distilling some of it and tell you what it tastes like. I cheat by adding sugar to get a higher post fermentation alcohol content. This may be the problem. Citrus on its own doesn’t usually get up to 13%.

  14. By chance, t’other half kicked off a batch of banana wine this very evening, and the recipe book is right in front of me.

    Two recipes for orange wine (and parsnip sherry and birch sap wine and all the rest).

    One recipe notes that the white pith should be avoided like the plague, stuff ends up too bitter.

    Best guess as to why it isn’t generally done – there are better rewards available for oranges, as opposed to making wine. Tastes have settled on grapes, which would probably explain the distinct lack of parsnip brandy in Tesco.

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