Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vanilla-Infused Sour Orange Juice

In my post on the delicious fruits and juices of Canoa (and Ecuador in general), I mentioned my favorite, a juice I considered Paradise in a Glass.  A juice that actually made me want to make juice once I returned from my trip (please note I am not a juice drinker, it's coffee or water thank you).

Yes, you all know what I'm talking about...

Vanilla-Infused Sour Orange Juice.  The juice that I couldn't stop drinking on the farm.  If Mami had a jug of her amazing sour citrus juice in the fridge, I was in there too!  Yummy!

So not having my own mandarin and orange and lemon trees to pluck fruits from, I obviously have to resort to grocery store fruit.  Sad I know but thank you globalization for making these fruits available.  My recipe is my own.  I never watched Mami make her juice, I almost didn't want to know how she did it because then the secret would be out!  And don't you think things taste better sometimes when there is an air of mystery to them?  I do.

So here it is.  A taste of the tropics and a ray of sunshine for our cold, rainy Vancouver winter nights, not to mention a hit of Vitamin C!  Always a good thing during the winter.  Please enjoy!

  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 green mandarins
  • 2 key limes
  • Water as necessary
  • A plump vanilla bean
  • Sugar to taste


1. Put on some salsa music.  This step is key because it sets the mood and tone for what you are about to do.  If you can turn the heat up and put on a sarong or a summery outfit that helps too.  You might also want to buy some fancy umbrellas for the finished drink.  With food, as life, it is the details that really create the experience.

2. When you are in the right mood, gather up all your beautiful citrus fruits and, of course, your plump vanilla bean.  Slice the vanilla bean open, scrape out the oily paste and add the paste to a jug.  Grate the peel of the lemon and oranges on a fine setting into the jug as well.  Make sure you grate the fruits directly into the serving jug so you capture all the citrus essential oils.  Now cut all of oranges, lemons and mandarins open and squeeze the juice into the jug.

4. All that is left are the adorable little key limes.  We are doing something special with those!  In Egypt, they serve a lime drink with key limes where they puree up the limes whole with water.  The pureed mixture is then poured through a sieve to remove the seeds.  This method captures all of the delicious and intense lime essence from the peel.  So, puree the two limes with a cup of water until the mixture is foamy and luscious and then pour the mixture through a sieve into the waiting jug.

5. At this point it is a matter of adding a few scoops of sugar and tasting it.  Add water and sugar as needed until you are in love with the taste. 

This juice captures my experience in Ecuador.  Why?  It's complex, a mix of sweet and sour; it's full of the sun - lemons, oranges, mandarins.  It's sexy, perfumed with vanilla bean, but subtle.  It's perfect on its own, but also could be spiced up a bit with a touch of gin.  Ecuador in a glass.


Shonagh explores the guts of food in An Offal Experiment.

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