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Making Limoncello

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#391 cyndigo

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 05:39 PM

Hello,
New member here, with a limoncello question. I've made it successfully for years, never keeping notes but just grabbing a recipe off the internet, with vodka or everclear, and it's always been fine.

A friend sent me a lovely box of Meyer lemons and I was thrilled. Surely, this will be the best batch yet! I resolved to be patient with steeping. The liquid (I used vodka this time) never really took on a true deep yellow color. After 6-8 weeks, I added syrup and aged for another month.

What I got was "NumberTwoPencilCello." Not bitter, or horrible, but definitely woody-tasting. It was drinkable in iced tea, but not something I'd serve straight or give to friends.

Any suggestions on where I went wrong? Lemons are yellow, number two pencils are yellow ... I got nothin.

Thanks!

#392 Will

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 08:13 PM

i have made 2 batches with it (actually some other brand of 190 or 195 proof alcohol) and i would say the result is very drinkable. now, i have no point of reference, as i have never had commercial product nor that made by anyone else...

Our Italian family friends make their liquors with close to pure grain alcohol (I'm not sure what the product name is, but it's something that's available over there); of course it has to be heavily diluted, but the final product is very drinkable. I think it's something like 2:1:1 (alcohol:sugar:water), but could be remembering wrong. Since the lemon peels don't absorb much or any of the alcohol (compared to the green walnuts used to make nocino), it has to be fairly diluted to be drinkable.

#393 jlaw

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 07:50 AM

yes - i custom add sugar and water to get the alcohol level and sweetness i desire. i also believe the higher the alcohol % during the soaking of the zest, the better (or faster) it will extract the oils. makes sense to me!


it just seems a lot of people here are dismissing the use of grain... i was curious if they had actually tried it!

#394 bostonapothecary

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 08:11 AM

Hello,
New member here, with a limoncello question. I've made it successfully for years, never keeping notes but just grabbing a recipe off the internet, with vodka or everclear, and it's always been fine.

A friend sent me a lovely box of Meyer lemons and I was thrilled. Surely, this will be the best batch yet! I resolved to be patient with steeping. The liquid (I used vodka this time) never really took on a true deep yellow color. After 6-8 weeks, I added syrup and aged for another month.

What I got was "NumberTwoPencilCello." Not bitter, or horrible, but definitely woody-tasting. It was drinkable in iced tea, but not something I'd serve straight or give to friends.

Any suggestions on where I went wrong? Lemons are yellow, number two pencils are yellow ... I got nothin.

Thanks!

unfortunately that woodiness is just the aroma of meyer lemons. you just need to find ways of contrasting it. orange peels might do the trick or use in an iced tea like hibiscus.
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#395 raybeezbabee

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 08:39 PM

I'm currently steeping the zest of 18 lemons in 100ml of Smirnoff 100 proof. I put the wife on the job of microplaning lemons and walked back in to see about one pint of zest and five lemons down (she was zesting far into the pith, unfortunately). It's been about a week and I'll let everyone know how things go with all that pith infusing.

My question: Has anyone kept a simple syrup blended liqueur at room temperature for any period of time? I'd like to keep my limoncello out on a counter, if shelf-life will allow.

#396 Will

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 09:30 PM

My question: Has anyone kept a simple syrup blended liqueur at room temperature for any period of time? I'd like to keep my limoncello out on a counter, if shelf-life will allow.

I think that's how most people store it, in some cases, for quite some time.

#397 KatieLoeb

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 09:53 PM

I think that depends what your end proof level is, as well as the brix level/sugar content. I'm no scientist. I've kept some out on a shelf and it was fine - for a while. But eventually it turned cloudy and a little scary looking. And like anything that isn't filled to the top and well sealed after some has been removed, I suspect some mild oxidation might have occurred.

If you have the space, keep it in the freezer. I've never had any change in color, flavor or texture that way.

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#398 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:36 AM

Quick question, folks. A friend of mine gave me about a dozen of these perfect lemons from his trees (I have no idea of the cultivar). They're about a pound each - for reference, the knife in this photo is 12" long from tip to pommel. The rinds have very thick yellow portions and finer amounts of white, and the fruit itself is crazy juicy (it will become lemon pies for the most part) - but I don't want to waste that lovely peel! I love Limoncello but it's around $50 a bottle here, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The question is this: how many of these would you consider to be equivalent to a dozen "normal" lemons? I'm trying to figure out how many of them to microplane into my vodka - I don't want to overdo it.

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#399 Jaymes

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:53 AM

Quick question, folks. A friend of mine gave me about a dozen of these perfect lemons from his trees (I have no idea of the cultivar). They're about a pound each - for reference, the knife in this photo is 12" long from tip to pommel. The rinds have very thick yellow portions and finer amounts of white, and the fruit itself is crazy juicy (it will become lemon pies for the most part) - but I don't want to waste that lovely peel! I love Limoncello but it's around $50 a bottle here, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The question is this: how many of these would you consider to be equivalent to a dozen "normal" lemons? I'm trying to figure out how many of them to microplane into my vodka - I don't want to overdo it.


Perhaps 6 rather than 12?

But, my advice to you would be not to worry about "overdoing it." After you've extracted the oils, you add your alcohol, syrup, maybe even some water, etc., until it gets to the strength you want it.

It's been my experience that it's impossible to "overdo" adding too much zest.

On the other hand, having too little means you have to start all over and steep some more.

Another thing to consider is the strength of the lemon oils/flavor in your particular lemons. Meyers Lemons, for example, are quite large. But their peels do not seem, to me anyway, to be as flavorful as regular lemons.

Edited by Jaymes, 20 March 2012 - 09:55 AM.

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#400 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

Thanks! I'll start with 6 of them, then, and see how much peel that gets me. I also want to candy the peels of at least 2 or 3 of them (because a nibble of candied lemon peel is a guilty pleasure, and these are so perfect that it would be almost a shame not to!)

They definitely aren't Meyers - they're too flavourful for that, and Meyers are only rarely grown down here (probably for the very reason that they lack flavour). I'd place bets on them being a Spanish type, perhaps Villafranca, which are also quite large. The flavour is comparable to Sorrento lemons, which are rarely grown here (but which I buy whenever I see them.) I'll give it a shot with 6 of them and see what happens - my friend tells me that as long as at least one lemon pie comes his way per dozen lemons, he's happy to continue picking them and giving them to me. I've also got some limes the size of my fist, one of which will be zested and added as per Katie's instructions.
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#401 Jaymes

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:38 AM

They definitely aren't Meyers - they're too flavourful for that, and Meyers are only rarely grown down here (probably for the very reason that they lack flavour). I'd place bets on them being a Spanish type, perhaps Villafranca, which are also quite large. The flavour is comparable to Sorrento lemons, which are rarely grown here (but which I buy whenever I see them.) I'll give it a shot with 6 of them and see what happens - my friend tells me that as long as at least one lemon pie comes his way per dozen lemons, he's happy to continue picking them and giving them to me. I've also got some limes the size of my fist, one of which will be zested and added as per Katie's instructions.


I could tell they're not Meyers, primarily because you mentioned them as having thick skins, as opposed to Meyers, which, in my experience anyway, are thin-skinned.

I only mentioned them as an illustration that the size of the lemons doesn't necessarily translate into the strength of the oils in the zest, so that makes it a little harder to "guestimate" how many you should use.

I'll only caution again that you're better off to overdo than underdo.

And yes, Katie's suggestion to add the zest of one lime was something I had not heard of until I read it here. And it's made a big difference in the quality of my final product.

So let me add my thanks to Katie.
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#402 tikidoc

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 04:27 AM

As an FYI, there is a fairly long thread on this (an OT thread) on pizzamaking.com, that has been active lately as well. I made some using their suggestions and it tastes good to me, but I have never had the real deal, so not sure re authenticity. I used Smirnoff 100 proof vodka because you can't buy Everclear here in VA.

http://www.pizzamaki...ic,17731.0.html

#403 zeffer81

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 04:02 PM

Speaking of storage, how long will homemade 'cello last in the freezer? (I hope someone gives me the answer I want to hear :raz: )

#404 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 04:15 PM

Indefinitely seems to be the answer given upthread....

If you have the space, keep it in the freezer. I've never had any change in color, flavor or texture that way.


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#405 KatieLoeb

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 04:28 PM

Jaymes, you are most welcome.

Honestly, the one lime trick is the secret from my source of the recipe. He says it's the only thing that mimics the true flavor of Sorrento lemons which we can't readily get. He can't even get them in Germany and he was a lot closer to the source...

Meyer lemon JUICE is the prize of those lemons. The peels don't seem to work very well for limoncello, so I'm told by several folks that thought it would be a cool idea. :shrug: I can't explain it, but know that I won't waste money on those expensive lemons since others have already sailed that ship and sank.

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#406 Jaymes

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 05:49 PM

Jaymes, you are most welcome.

Honestly, the one lime trick is the secret from my source of the recipe. He says it's the only thing that mimics the true flavor of Sorrento lemons which we can't readily get. He can't even get them in Germany and he was a lot closer to the source...

Meyer lemon JUICE is the prize of those lemons. The peels don't seem to work very well for limoncello, so I'm told by several folks that thought it would be a cool idea. :shrug: I can't explain it, but know that I won't waste money on those expensive lemons since others have already sailed that ship and sank.


I have grown Meyer's Lemon trees in pots for quite a number of years, even hauling them around with me from state to state, as I kept relocating. They produce great numbers of lemons, which I really love in many applications, but it's clear that they're not as strongly-flavored as "regular" lemons. I was told some years back that Meyer's are not "true lemons." I never did any research into exactly what that means, but even when I use them in baking, I add extra juice.

I'm not surprised that they're not particularly wonderful for limoncello.

I have wondered, though, about calamansi/calamondon oranges as I have several pots of those also and they produce a lot of fruit. Other than the fact they're so small and would be quite the royal pain to zest, I'm curious as to how that would turn out.

It's probably a long shot to ask here if anybody has tried them, but you never know... eGulleteers are always a surprising lot.

So, has anyone ever tried making "calamancello"?

Edited by Jaymes, 24 March 2012 - 05:51 PM.

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#407 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 07:56 PM

I've never done neutral spirits extraction with calamondins, but I have extracted them into cognac and the result was breathtakingly good. I imagine that in a 'cello presentation you'd end up with something similar to Gran Marnier or other complex orange liqueurs.
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#408 ...tm...

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 11:10 PM

Last year a couple friends and I had a limoncelloff where we pit our various limoncello methods against each other. I used Meyer lemons (alcohol portions Katie's recipe), as I have a tree, and the others were a regular Smirnoff with supermarket lemons, store bought (easily identified as the loser), and lemons grown in the Central Valley (CA) steeped in very high proof home-distilled "rum" (which I have tried straight and detect little flavor).
The grocery store/Smirnoff was the winner by an edge, with the Central Valley version a close second. As others noted above the Meyer lemons didn't have enough 'lemon-ness' to pull it off. I went with all Meyers out of curiosity about the comparison I knew was upcoming, and also because I've always thought their peel was their strength. To me it has always tasted lemony plus "herbal". And if I had to name an herb, it would be rosemary, which can definitely be described as woody. I've always been disappointed in their insides, which don't have the acidity I'm looking for in a lemon, but have found the zest fantastic in lemon curds or vegetable dressings, as the herbal plus lemon character seems more interesting than pure lemon.
The surprise, however, came when we mixed the supermarket lemon winner with the Meyer loser (besides the poor, commercial brand sold at Trader Joe's) and the mixture became the overall winner of the night. The Pledge-y quality of the lemony winner was toned down and enhanced by the herbal qualities of the Meyer lemon version. So maybe mixing in a few Meyers could enhance the mix, though Meyer only is not nearly lemony enough.

#409 haresfur

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 12:56 AM

According to the font of knowledge, Wikipedia, Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and an orange, so I'm not surprised you don't get what you are after for limoncello.
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#410 Jaymes

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 09:43 AM

I've never done neutral spirits extraction with calamondins, but I have extracted them into cognac and the result was breathtakingly good. I imagine that in a 'cello presentation you'd end up with something similar to Gran Marnier or other complex orange liqueurs.


I'm curious as to how you did this. Did you zest those little calamansi? And then what with the cognac? "Breathtakingly good" makes it sound pretty compelling. I think I might give it a go, either with the cognac, or with vodka.

But, interestingly enough, the peel of the calamansi is actually sweeter than the meat. I used to have two large bushes flanking each side of our garage, and my sons would eat those calamansi whole while playing basketball in the driveway.
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#411 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 10:02 AM

I cheated, actually. I cut the Calmanasi in half (the way one would slice a grapefruit) then used my handy runcible spoon to remove the meat and connective tissues (which I smooshed up and boiled up with a bit of grapefruit rind and some herbs in the process of making my own citrus bitters), then cut the rind into strips and that's what went into the cognac in a large clear glass jar in the sunshine of my kitchen windowledge for a couple of weeks. Cognac is naturally a bit sweet (or at least the Remy XO I used was) and it complemented the Calmanasi rather well. I tested the jar every other day or so (a teaspoon at a time) until I was happy with the extraction, then I filtered it and squirreled it away in a brown-glass bottle. I had about 1 L of it, and it lasted about three months (by which time it was all gone).

Then I took those lovely chunks of cognac'd rind and covered them in the darkest chocolate I had on hand, which was a 78% Amazonian gran cru if memory serves.

Edit - I am an atrocious typist today. Fixed typos and grammar problems.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense, 25 March 2012 - 10:12 AM.

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#412 Jaymes

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:25 PM

I cheated, actually. I cut the Calmanasi in half (the way one would slice a grapefruit) then used my handy runcible spoon to remove the meat and connective tissues (which I smooshed up and boiled up with a bit of grapefruit rind and some herbs in the process of making my own citrus bitters), then cut the rind into strips and that's what went into the cognac in a large clear glass jar in the sunshine of my kitchen windowledge for a couple of weeks. Cognac is naturally a bit sweet (or at least the Remy XO I used was) and it complemented the Calmanasi rather well. I tested the jar every other day or so (a teaspoon at a time) until I was happy with the extraction, then I filtered it and squirreled it away in a brown-glass bottle. I had about 1 L of it, and it lasted about three months (by which time it was all gone).

Then I took those lovely chunks of cognac'd rind and covered them in the darkest chocolate I had on hand, which was a 78% Amazonian gran cru if memory serves.


Wow. Just wow.

Especially the bit where you covered the rinds with the "darkest chocolate" you had on hand.

Are they (calamansi/calamondon oranges) native to Ecuador? Are they hard to find down there?

We lived in the Philippines for several years and they grow wild there and are ubiquitous in the Filipino cuisine. I've always grown them in pots in the US, but most folks here have never heard of them.

I definitely think I might try to make some "calamancello" following Katie's recipe, but subbing the calamansi rinds.
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#413 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 02:10 PM

I only do Calamansignac when a friend of mine (who has trees) gives me some of her crop; otherwise Kumquats and Mandalimes are much more common small citrusses than the Calamansi is. BTW, citrus is an Old-World plant and everything here was brought over by the Spanish. On the upside, though, I can get Valencia and Sevilla oranges year-round here.... Actually, it's much more common to find 7 or 8 varieties of limes and lemons, some of which are orange inside, than it is to find a "true" orange.
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#414 Jaymes

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 03:25 PM

We lived in the Philippines for several years and they grow wild there and are ubiquitous in the Filipino cuisine. I've always grown them in pots in the US, but most folks here have never heard of them.


Well, I thought I should come back here and correct myself...

I did a little googling just out of curiosity and, according to Wiki, Calamondin/Calamansi are a hybrid that are "unknown in the wild," so I guess I was wrong when I said that they grew wild in the Philippines. But it certainly seemed to me like they did, since they were everywhere, including along the sides of the roads.

And, it appears that they are so ancient that nobody knows for sure where they originated, but that most folks think it was probably China.

Calamondin/Calamansi - Wiki

I know that the Filipinos use them for a great many medicinal uses, but was surprised to read this:

Calamondin citrus has found several medicinal uses. When rubbed on insect bites, the juice will relieve the itching and reduce the irritation. It can also be used as a natural acne medicine or taken orally as cough medicine (often mixed with green tea), and is a natural anti-inflammatory. For problems with constipation the juice is warmed and diluted with water. It bleaches freckles and helps to clear up acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. In Malaysia, it is used as an antidote for poison, and a poultice of pandanus leaves mixed with salt and the juice of citrus microcarpa, can be used to treat abscesses. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is combined with pepper to help expel phlegm. Its root is used in the Philippines at childbirth.


"Childbirth"? Who knew?

Citrus plants are really quite wonderful, it seems.

:smile:

Edited by Jaymes, 25 March 2012 - 03:27 PM.

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#415 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 05:02 PM

Anyone ever attempted a riff on the 'format' with, say, grapefruit, lime or orange (even blood orange)? Kumquats?

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#416 KatieLoeb

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 03:53 PM

The proper name for orange-cello is, arancello. And it's delicious. The big gigantic thick skinned navel oranges work great for this, and a veggie peeler is fine since the skins are so thick. I've heard tell of tangerinecello and mandarincello though I've never tried myself. I bet grapefruit would be delicious.

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#417 Christopher396

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 03:27 PM

Posted Image

From the left I have lemon, lime, and orange. I just mixed this batch up a couple weeks ago and it's resting.

#418 zeffer81

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:17 PM

Anyone ever attempted a riff on the 'format' with, say, grapefruit, lime or orange (even blood orange)? Kumquats?


I've done key lime (never again--it was a real bitch to peel) and blood orange. Both turned out just fine.

#419 jacko9

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 04:39 PM

Hello people, I'm new to this site but I have found this thread to be a great sourse of knowledge and experience in the crafting of Limoncello. Since I live in California, I have three lemon trees and one large orange tree. This year after filling the bins of my spare refigerator up with excessive lemons, I decided to try crafting Limoncelle. A month ago I used a microplane to zest 36 Eureka lemons for two batches of Limoncello. I used 2 750ml bottles of 151 proof Everclear for each batch which I filtered throught a Brita filter. After three weeks I filtered the zest from the first batch of Everclear and added a Simple Syrup of 1 cup granulated sugar to 4 cups of filtered water. After cooling I blended the batch which turned cloudy but, with a nice color and fragrance. After a week I tested some and while the flavor was great, the alcohol kick was dangerous! The second batch is still infusing to see if the longer time makes any difference but, I think the next batch will have slightly more sugar and a lot more filtered water. I did buy two commercial brands to compare sugar level and taste and even though my first batch is very strong, it does taste better than the commercial product.P1010013.JPG P1010015.JPG

Edited by jacko9, 27 July 2012 - 05:32 PM.


#420 KatieLoeb

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 10:41 PM

Brainstorm hit me when I was discussing my limoncello recipe with someone down in New Orleans this week. The addition of the one lime is to bring that slightly floral quality that the Sorrento lemons have. So what if I tried pink grapefruit-cello with the addition of one tangerine or clementine to also add that floral element?? Or would this work to vastly improve a straight orange arancello?? I'll be a little busy in the next few weeks to start a test batch of this, but will report back when I get it together...

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