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!