A couple days ago I had the pleasure of making limoncello with the lovely Caroline. Caroline is a longtime friend of my sister’s, who I’ve known since I was a little girl. She’s a very talented wedding and event planner who blogs about the joys and tribulations of planning her own wedding. She was a big help to me when Nick and I planned our marriage celebration last year, so if you’re in the market for a wedding planner, she’s your girl!
Caroline has been making limoncello for the past five years or so, inspired by her post-college backpacking trip through Europe, where she was entranced by Italy.
Limoncello is a popular Italian liqueur made primarily in Southern Italy from Sorrento lemons. It is typically served as an after dinner drink in small, chilled glasses. As I have never been to Italy (not yet!), I’ve not had the pleasure of drinking it there, but came to enjoy it during my time in Andalucía in Southern Spain. It’s really refreshing and just the right mix of sweet and tart.
Limoncello only requires a few ingredients: lemons, alcohol, simple syrup, and patience. In this post I’ll take you through limoncello making part 1; simple syrup doesn’t come into play until about six weeks from now.
The first step is simple: peel lemons. We peeled 40 organic lemons over the course of 2-3 hours. Organic lemons are preferred since it is the zest (not the juice) that is used and we wanted the highest quality. Peeling lemons is slow, methodical work, but it went by quickly because we hadn’t seen each other in a while so we spent the whole time chatting away. We used small paring knives to peel the lemons and then to scrape away the pith (the white part which if kept on will impart a bitter taste). By the end, we both had sore hands and blisters. But, it’s worth it, trust me. 🙂
The next step is to submerge the lemon peels in alcohol in large glass jars. It is important to use glass and not plastic since Caroline’s recipe utilizes grain alcohol which if left over time could eat through plastic. The glass containers should also have a top that’ll seal well. Fill each container with 1 part grain alcohol and 1 part good quality vodka (we used Stoli). Store the containers in a cool, dark place and steep for a minimum of two weeks (we’re going for six weeks) so that the oils from the lemon peels are released. The longer you wait, the better the flavor. When Caroline and I meet up again in August, we’ll remove the peels from the alcohol and mix in the simple syrup. I can’t wait!
You can use the remaining lemons to make lemonade or your favorite recipe that utilizes lemons (lemon bars anyone?).
Limoncello Part I
Yields a double batch
40 organic lemons
1 half gallon grain alcohol
1 half gallon good quality vodka
special equipment: 2 large glass containers with tops that seal
1. Peel all lemons and remove pith.
2. Place peels in containers and cover with 1 part grain alcohol, 1 part vodka.
3. Seal containers securely and set aside in a cool, dark place. Leave undisturbed for 2-4 weeks.
To be continued…