Apparently all that was needed to bring back my mojo was a large batch of Limoncello. It is, after all, like sipping sunshine. If you are not familiar with it, Limoncello is an Italian Lemon Liqueur. It is lemony, sweet, and strong. It is served cold, which makes it perfect for sipping on hot summer evenings…or spring evenings…or winter. Wait. It’s just good, no matter what time of year.
Aren’t they beautiful? As with their oranges, my mom calls them “organic by neglect.” This is my 4th time making Limoncello and it is by FAR the best batch. What made the difference? 190 proof Everclear. Many recipes say you can use 100 Proof Vodka in place of using grain alcohol. It’s true. You can. I have. It’s nowhere near as good. I’ve tried various types and strengths of vodka but I can now tell you from experience the Everclear does a far superior job of extracting all the oils from the lemon zest. I’m told that some states don’t even carry the 190 proof, so if you can’t get it, use the highest proof grain alcohol you can obtain. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I CAN get it here in Utah. BUT…just a tip for any fellow Utahans…It is not available on the shelf. You have to ask the workers at the liquor store. They keep it behind the register and don’t keep anything larger than 200ml bottles. I bought 4. Approximately 30% of the label is warnings of flammability and cautioning that it is not intended to be consumed straight.
Originally I was going to let this batch sit for another 45 days before blogging about it but it’s so darn good right now that I thought I’d go ahead and write this post while it’s fresh in my mind. Besides, this way you can go start a batch now and it will be ready in time to have a nice bottle chilled in your freezer by the time summer weather arrives!
- 14 large lemons, scrubbed and dried.
- 750 ml 190 proof Everclear
- 5 cups water
- 5 cups sugar
Using a microplane zest the lemons. Be sure not to get any of the white pith or your limoncello will be bitter! See how the lemons are still slightly yellow? That ensures you’ve got the zest with all those good oils but none of the bitter pith.Place the zest in a glass jar with an airtight lid and pour alcohol into the jar. Store in a cool, dark place for 45 days. For the first 3 weeks I swirled the jar every couple of days, then I let it rest for the remainder of the time.
After 45 days, place the 5 cups of water and sugar in a saucepan and heat just to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
I strained it about 5 more times and each time it caught more tiny particles. This will help ensure that your final product is not cloudy.
Add the cooled simple syrup to taste and stir until combined. Just for kicks, I strained it one more time as I poured it into the jar. I placed a canning funnel in the jar and the filter inside of that: Now you have a difficult decision to make. You can put it in the freezer and begin enjoying as soon as it is chilled OR I’m told that if you allow it to sit for another 45 days it will get even better. I find that hard to believe, it’s so good right now! In the interest of testing the theory I did exercise self control with the majority of the batch and it is resting happily in a cool, dark, place. I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time some of it did find it’s way to my freezer!