Monday, July 20, 2009

Homemade limoncello

Exactly 3 months ago, on April 19th, I had a very lemony day. One of the lemony things I made that day, was limoncello which was going to take 2-4 months to "mature".

Russian Prince, meet lemons. Lemons, meet your Prince.

So now is the time... And let me tell you, if you have access to a lot of lemons, and you like limoncello, DO IT! I actually prefer the home-made one to the store-bought Limoncello brand due to the sweetness, as I find the store-bought way too sweet. The smell is the same although the color of the home-made one is darker.

Left: store-bought. Right: home-made

The whole process is very easy, just tedious since zesting the lemons really means only zest, no white pith because that's what turns the taste bitter and would spoil the limoncello. The recipe that I settled on, is from Epicurious, calls for:
  • 15 lemons
  • 2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water

But as I didn't want to waste a bottle of vodka in case it turns out bad, I halved the recipe and used:
  • 7 big lemons, with thick skin
  • more or less 800 ml vodka ( I had about 3/4 of a 1.14l bottle)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2.5 cups water
Wash the lemons with hot water, use a potato brush if you have (It's best to use organic lemons so there won't be wax and pesticides) Dry them.

Use a zester or a peeler to zest the rinds. If you get some pith on there, you can remove it with a small pointy knife. Make sure you do so, or the limoncello will be spoiled.

In a big glass jar put in half of the vodka (I didn't have one, so I used an empty 1.14l bottle) Then as you're zesting, just drop strands of the lemon peel inside. Close it up well, then leave it some where cool and dark (I left mine in the closet) for the next 2 months.

After 2 months, it's time to make the syrup. In a sauce pan, cook the sugar and water over medium heat until it thickened slightly (about 5-10 minutes) Cool completely. Take the bottle out (At this point, you will see the color has changed. It's pretty!) to add the syrup & the rest of the vodka.

Close it up again and put it back in that cool & dark place for another month or so. When ready to put to good use, take the bottle (or jar) out, discard the peels, strain the limoncello, and you may put it in the freezer until ready to serve.

Left: store-bought. Right: home-made

Hmmmm..... Oh yeah....