Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Limoncello

This is THE best liqueur in the world:) You can usually find it on-line, or at Trader Joe's, but it is so easy to make. And it is so much tastier.

Italians traditionally serve it chilled as an after dinner digestivo. Usually in glasses themselves that are often chilled. And there are great cocktails and desserts out there that use this lemon liqueur.

I keep it in the freezer and serve it straight from it with an ice cube (to me, it's better when it gets diluted a little bit). Make sure that the bottle kept in the freezer is not filled to the brim, and using a screw top bottle will make sure that the bottle will not explode.

Eureka lemons are the best and easiest lemons you can find to make the limoncello. Choose lemons with thick, waxy skins, which seem to have the best lemon oil content. Wash them a lot, you want to get rid of the wax or pesticides from them.

The traditional way of making limoncello is to slice off the topmost layer of lemon peel, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible. If there is any pith on a slice, scrape it off with a knife or spoon. An extremely sharp vegetable peeler works best. The pith is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.

Try to use 100-proof vodka (it doesn't have a strong vodka taste and it won't freeze in the freezer), but if you can't find it and use more commonly found 80-proof steep the peels longer so that you can get more flavor out of them. Original recipe uses grain alcohol like Everclear, but vodka works just fine for me). The resulting limoncello will have a about 20-proof less alcohol content.

Below are the amounts I like, but feel free to increase or decrease the lemon quantity as well as the sugar amount according to how you like the taste.

LIMONCELLO

Ingredients:
10 lemons
1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar

Directions:
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher.

Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 14 days up to 40 days in a cool dark place at room temperature.

Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (do not stir, swirl the pan around) and liquid turns clear, about 5 minutes. Cool completely, don't add it before it cools.

Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels.

Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 week and up to 1 month.

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