HOW TO MAKE LIMONCELLO
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
This time last week I was hosting my annual Christmas Tea for my Book Club.
For the busy month of December we chose a lighthearted and easy to read book called “Lessons From Madame Chic” by Jennifer L. Scott.
Ms. Scott writes about “The 20 Stylish Secrets she Learned While Living in Paris” as an exchange student.
The author lived with a Parisian family in a grand 16th Arrondissement apartment. She called the matriarch of the family Madame Chic. Each chapter of the book reveals a valuable lesson she learned while under Madame Chic’s tutelage.
During her stay in France she came to truly embrace the classically French aesthetics that elevate the little things in life to the art of living. So to celebrate both the book and Christmas I wanted my tea to reflect that aesthetic too. Toward that end I decided to make homemade Limoncello as my party favors and today I thought I’d show you how to make Limoncello too. I have loved Limoncello ever since I first tasted it many years ago on a trip to the island of Capri off of Southern Italy where it is produced in abundance.
To make my homemade Limoncello the first thing I did was purchase these glass flasks from Crate and Barrel here.
To insure that they were completely sanitary I washed them in my dishwasher.
Next I purchased a bushel load of organic lemons. Since it is the lemon peel that is used to make Limoncello, I used organic lemons that would not have pesticides present in their skins. I then gave them a good scrubbing.
Using a sharp knife I proceeded to peel all 40 lemons, enough to make the 15 bottles of Limoncello I needed for my party favors. I peeled the lemons to achieve long strips, avoiding the white pith as much as possible.
The Limoncello recipe I’ll share with you below will use only 10 lemons which will yield about 7 cups of Limoncello. You can then double, triple or quadruple the recipe as I did, depending on how much Limoncello you wish to make.
Once I had all the lemons peeled I placed them in a large, non-reactive glass jar with a lid. Do not use a metal container to make Limoncello, as the acid in the lemon peel will react with the metal, not a good thing.
In researching the making of Limoncello I found many recipes that used Vodka as the base, while other recipes suggested the use of pure grain alcohol. I chose to use Vodka, and being the Costco lover that I am, purchased Kirkland brand American vodka. Costco also sells Kirkland brand Vodka made in Russia but because I was buying a lot, I selected the less expensive American Vodka. Once made into Limoncello, I doubted the difference would be detected.
The vodka is simply poured over the lemon peels and the jar gets covered and set aside at room temperature for between 4 days and up to 40 days. The longer the mixture steeps, the better the taste will be.
As the Limoncello sits, the vodka slowly takes on the lemon flavor as well as the rich yellow color of the lemon peel. After it has set for your desired amount of time, the next step is to sweeten your brew with a simple syrup. A simply syrup is made by combining equal parts of water and sugar. For this recipe I used 2-1/2 cups water and 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar that I placed in a saucepan, brought it to a boil, then let it boil gently for about 10 minutes until it began to reduce slightly and thicken into a syrupy consistency. The syrup is then cooled before adding to the Limoncello mixture.
The final step is to strain the Limoncello through a fine sieve, discarding all but a few of the lemon peels that can be added to each bottle for decoration. Using a funnel, pour the limoncello into bottles that have an airtight seal or top.
I store my Limoncello in the freezer until I’m ready to serve it ice cold from the freezer. It is delicious served straight up in small liqueur glasses as an after dinner aperitif. Or, mix it with champagne for a refreshing, light cocktail. It is also delicious poured over ice cream, gelato, or fresh fruit.
So there you have it: HOW TO MAKE LIMONCELLO
Why not make some to enjoy on New Year’s Eve?
- 10 Organic Lemons
- 1, 750 ml Bottle Vodka
- 2-1/2 Cups Water
- 2-1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- Wash the lemons in warm water, then pat them dry.
- Using a sharp paring knife, peel the lemons into long, thin strips, avoiding as much as possible the white pith.
- Place the lemon peels in a large glass container that has a tight fitting lid.
- Pour the vodka over the lemon peels and cover the container.
- Set the jar aside at room temperature, allowing the liquid to steep for as little as 4 days or as much as 40 days.
- The longer the mixture steeps, the more lemon flavor it will achieve.
- Once the mixture has steeped for the desired length of time, strain the limoncello through a fine mesh strainer and discard the lemon peels.
- The next step is to prepare a simple syrup.
- Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring the liquid to a slow boil and boil for 10 minutes until it begins to thicken and reduces slightly.
- Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Pour the simple syrup into the limoncello and stir to combine.
- Transfer into bottles with tight fitting tops.
- Store in the freezer until ready to serve.
- Serve ice cold in liquor glasses or pour over gelato or fresh fruit.
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