June 10, 2016

If life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

I had about half of a bag of lemons sitting on my counter about a month ago.  I had used a few of them for recipes but didn't have plans to make anything that needed lemon so I thought to myself: What can I do with these so that they won't go to waste?  Then it hit me: limoncello!  

I spent my junior year abroad in Milan and dated a man who lived on the Amalfi Coast, well known for their fabulous football-sized lemons and the sweet digestivo that they produce with them: limoncello.  Needless to say, I became quite the connoisseur of the stuff.  I could drink limoncello everyday if I had it!

I did some reading online and it looked fairly easy.  There are really only two steps:
1. infusing the alcohol with the lemon peels
2. adding a simple sugar syrup for sweetness

I thought, I can do this!

And so I began...  I used a peeler a remove the rinds from my lemons.  

I juiced the lemons and froze the juice in a couple small containers so I'll have it for later use.  You could also use it to make some homemade lemonade.

I had a bottle of vodka, hardly opened, in the freezer that someone had given me long ago.  I'm not a vodka drinker so it had sat untouched.  I think the only time I used it was to make a vodka sauce for pasta.  I grabbed a large mason jar from the pantry and in went the alcohol and lemon peels.  I sealed it up and put it in the back of the fridge to infuse.  

After three weeks it looked like this:

I tasted it to see how lemony it was.  Miraculous!  It was very tasty, but not sweet enough.  We can fix that.

I poured the mixture through a strainer and disposed of the lemon peels.  This is something the chickens won't eat - they don't do citrus - so it will just be added to the compost.

The remaining liquid was a bright, sunny yellow.  I set this aside while I made the sugar syrup.

For the syrup, I set a small pot on the stove.  I added three cups of sugar and just enough water to moisten it.  With the temperature on medium-high I stirred continuously until the sugar dissolved and it became a thick syrup.   

I let the syrup cool a little then poured it into the infusion, stirring constantly, and tasting every now and again to see if it was sweet enough.  I ended up adding all of the sugar syrup because I like mine sweet, but taste yours as you go to ensure it's just right for your palette.   

And ta-da!  Limoncello complete! 

I ended up with two mason jars about 75% full.  Traditionally, limoncello is served straight from the freezer, in a small cordial glass or shot glass.  My jars are in the freezer getting nice and frosty so that I can enjoy an ice-cold digestivo after dinner tonight.    I'm so looking forward to it!

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