Lemons as big as your head!

29 Dec

Italy’s Amalfi coast is known for lemons – huge, insane lemons that if they ever became sentient would be totally big enough to take over the world.  And with those lemons come limoncello, a delicious Italian liqueur.

We bought a bottle of limoncello, around a .375, for like 6.50 euros while in Amalfi.  Again, with the exchange rate, that works out to a fair amount more, but still very reasonable.  And we drank it quickly.  And good limoncello is definitely more expensive here.

Now, I’ve always wanted to try making my own liqueurs – it just seems like fun.  Limoncello seemed like the perfect place to start.  After perusing several limoncello recipes online, I chose this one from Vino e Vittles.  It was very detailed, and it didn’t seem that hard, so to work I went.

Basically here’s what you do.  Buy 20 organic lemons and wash them thoroughly using a fruit/vegetable wash to get off any unpleasant residue.  Zest the lemons, being careful to not get any of the white pith as that will make your limoncello bitter rather than lemony.  The recipe said to peel the zest in strips, but I actually found using a Microplane zester allowed more precision, though I did spend at least half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, zesting lemons.  Put the zest in a jar with one bottle of Everclear and one bottle of vodka – the mix of liquors is so that it’s not as strong as just Everclear, but has enough alcohol to lower the freezing point after mixing in the simple syrup that your limoncello doesn’t freeze in the freezer.  Let it all sit in a dark, cool place for a month, swirling the mixture daily.

Zest and alcohols after a month

Zest and alcohols after a month

After a month, strain the lemon alcohol to get out the zest, then restrain through a coffee filter to get out any other impurities.  This part takes FOREVER.  Like three hours to get through the filters, even though I kept changing them.   As it filters, make a simple syrup of four cups of sugar and four cups of water – boil them together for at least 7 minutes, then let cool.  I did find that I had to skim the syrup to get sugar scum off the top, but I was also using organic sugar which may be less pure; regular may not have the same issues.

Mix your syrup into the alcohol and pour it into whatever bottles you plan to use.  You could certainly just reuse your vodka and Everclear bottles, or you could go for something prettier.  I bought bottles of french lemonade from Sunflower Market (similar to these) and removed the labels (after drinking the lemonade first).

So much limoncello!

So much limoncello!

And look!  You’ve got yourself some delightful (and strong!) limoncello!

All told, I ended up with just over 2.25 liters.  It may take us a while to drink all of it, but I’m sure we’ll enjoy the process.


One Response to “Lemons as big as your head!”

  1. gerree March 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    I’m so impressed with your dedication to DIY and yummy, interesting booze, girl.

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