I like to find projects that let me try new things, involve an initial burst of enthusiasm and work, and are then followed by some amount of laxness. I might have found the perfect project in limoncello, which gets better the longer it steeps. I'm also thinking the lemon taste will be a nice reminder of warmer days when we are in the middle of another endless winter.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi and islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri, but also in Sicily, Sardinia, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. Traditionally, it is made from Sorrento lemon peel, though most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello.
7-8 organic lemons (if using another type of citrus, scale down accordingly)
1 750 ml bottle grain alcohol (80 proof or higher)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
- First, thoroughly wash and scrub any residue and waxes from your citrus.
- Peel the lemons. You’ll want to peel long strips along the length of the lemon, pulling off little to no white pith. If you do peel any pith, scrape it off gently with a paring knife.
- Add the lemon peel to a large glass vessel. Pour in the vodka or other grain alcohol, seal tightly, and let sit for at least one week, preferably longer! (Ideally, give it one to two months.)
- After you’ve let your limoncello cure for your preferred length of time, prepare the simple syrup. I’ve gone very conservative with the sugar, although many recipes call for much more. Adjust the level of sugar according to taste.
- To make the simple syrup, simmer the water and the sugar over a low heat just long enough to dissolve the sugar. Do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. When cool, add the simple syrup to the limoncello, tasting as you go. Allow it to rest for another 10-14 days.
- Finally, strain the lemon rinds and sediment using cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
I'll let you know how it goes, in a couple of months!