Monday, March 28, 2011

Limoncello


Living in Southern California, and more particularly near my dad, we have an abundance of citrus.  Dad's "groves" (he has a small plot of land but lots of trees!) include lime, orange and lemon.  His mature lemon tree produces nearly year around and supplements the baby tree that we have growing in our own "groves".  With literally hundreds of the yellow fruits ripe at any one time we try to find recipes to use them up as it just breaks our heart to toss them if we can't find an eager recipient.

Limoncello is just the type of recipe that makes you feel good about using lots of the produce.  Using a vegetable peeler, my husband peels strips of rind as thin as he can from the lemons and places them into a jar.  While the peeling does indeed take a bit of time, the completion of this section of the recipe simply calls for "pouring vodka over to cover".  The citrusy jar then goes into the closet for a rest until we remember it is there, usually about 4 weeks or so.

I'm always amazed how quickly the liquid takes on a brilliant yellow hue and emits a most lovely lemony scent.  Within 24 hours the oils from the rind have already begun releasing into the vodka giving the color and scent.  After a good 4 week or so rest, the vodka is ready to be "cut" with a simple syrup of water and sugar.

A quick internet search will turn up dozens of recipes, all somewhat different.  I found one recipe calling for a steeping time of 4 days and another asking for 44+ days.  I also found great variations in the amount of simple syrup used as well as the water/sugar ratios leading me to believe that this beverage is a bit of an imprecise science and that you really can't go wrong.

Next year's lemon crop!
Cutting the Lemon Vodka is indeed imprecise involving variations and personal taste.  My husband has made the Limoncello twice with the lemons being riper the second time.  The riper lemons seemed to release a more citrusy flavor requiring less of the simple syrup than the first batch with less ripe lemons.  His advice was to mix up the simple syrup and add in batches rather than all at once, adjusting to suit your taste and making sure that you haven't gone too sweet.

Brilliant in color and rich with a delightful scent this Italian beverage makes a special treat over crushed ice on a warm summer day (or even a cold winters day, for that matter...).  Limoncello can also be a tasty addition to baked goods and glazes adding a lovely lemony boost to the finished product.



Limoncello
10-20 clean lemons (depending on the size of the lemons)
1 (750 ml) bottle of Vodka
3 cups of water
2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind of the lemons into long strips as thin as you can.  (The white pith is bitter) Juice the lemons and save juice for another use. Place the peels into a glass vessel, about a 2 quart size, and add the vodka.  Cover and let the mixture rest for a few weeks.

Strain the vodka into a bowl, discarding the peels.  Heat the water and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes, allow to cool to room temp.  Add the water/sugar mixture to the vodka.  (Note:  We chose to add the water/sugar mixture in sections, adding 2 cups to start, then adding 1/4 cup at a time until we had the desired taste and making sure we did not make the finished product too sweet).

Transfer the Limoncello to bottles and chill.  Enjoy over crushed ice.

Note:  We once tried to make the Limoncello with a sugar substitute with mixed results.  The taste was fine, however the substitute caused the liquid to become a murky, cloudy color that was somewhat unappealing.


37 comments:

  1. I would love to try making Limoncello as this looks wonderful. Maybe one day my lemon tree will have enough lemons for this, but until then I think I will rely on Costco.

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  2. I know about this drink but never knew the recipe...now i do!!!And i'll make this for a summer drink!

    Kisses,
    Rita

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  3. You are so lucky to have abundant citrus fruit to make this beautiful Limoncello. Love your little ceramic lemon cup. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

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  4. How wonderful to have a dad with citrus groves. I associate limoncello with some great holidays I've had. This recipe sounds lovely and the photos are full of sunshine. I had a friend with a lemon tree. She gave me the entire crop - which amounted to one solitary sad fruit which I made into icecream :D

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  5. Love Limoncello! I made it as Christmas gifts ... we loved Limoncello martinis during the holidays!

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  6. Kim this looks so refreshing and beautiful! I love your photos as usual! Wonderful post!

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  7. Ohh, very nice! I've always talked about making this but never have. You just inspired me!

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  8. I adore limoncello...I don't recall the first time I had it but I do know that it is divine. Yours looks absolutely stunning!

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  9. You're lucky to have "groves". I have to rely on my local supermarket for citrus, but I'll take it! This looks so refreshing, and your photos, amazing as always!

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  10. I love limoncello! My husband and I travelled to Italy with my best friend and her husband for a significant birthday {for me}. That was the first time I tried limoncello...so good! I'd love to make it. Hopefully my meyers lemons will be ripe soon!

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  11. Oh I would absolutely love to make my own limoncello - if you have any extra citrus I would be happy to take anything off your hands! ;) This recipe looks fantastic, I really appreciate how you describe cutting the limoncello is not an exact science; so much of cooking is just this way and I think some people tend to rely too much on exact recipes. We should definitely meet up soon and experiment with some recipes!!!

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  12. I've made limoncello a couple times...my book club was thrilled to get little bottles for Christmas. I was confused by all the different recipes, but it looks like you found a logical way to make it perfect :)

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  13. Oh man, this has me dreaming of the Amalfi coast. And it looks so easy too! Except for the waiting two weeks bit...

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  14. First of all love your ceramic cup. I love limoncello. We have tried making it a few times but never with Vodka, always with grappa. Have to give this a try, it looks really good.

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  15. I made this in 2009 and with all of that gone it is about time to make it again. I think 1 gallon will do!

    Jason

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  16. I have always wanted to make limoncello but just haven't done it yet; I am so inspired. Your limoncello looks simply wonderful and I love it served in your proper limoncello glasses. Great post!

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  17. I made my limoncello with grain alcohol. It is no longer available in my area. I guess I will make it with vodka like you. I live in Va and our area is to cold to grow citrus.

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  18. It's getting warm this side of CA and I would love to make that drink sometime soon. Love the clicks too. I am co-hosting the Hearth and Soul Hop, would really like you to share your recipe with us :)

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  19. Looks wonderfully refreshing!!

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  20. My husband and I love limoncello and this recipe looks fantastic! We'll have to make it soon! Thanks!

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  21. Love the bottled version, so this should be really refreshing!

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  22. How beautiful! Looks super refreshing - perfect for a picnic!

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  23. Kim! I'm happy to be reading about this! I was really jonesing for some limoncello last week. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with a lemon tree :-( So, I needs to gets me some lemons first! But, I'm so glad this is an easy process! I've been wanting to use it for baking!

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  24. Do you find that home grown lemons are sweeter than store bought? As they ripen do they get more tart or less? I am so curious about citrus now that we are moving to Florida. Maybe we will have a house with a tree of our own!

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  25. This looks like a refreshing drink right about now. I wonder if I could bring some limoncello to the office with me later and get away with it :-)

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  26. I am envious that you have all this fresh, home-grown citrus. :)

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  27. Limoncello is one of my favorite holiday and summer treats, and delicious with champagne! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I was planning on sharing mine soon with my readers, too! :)

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  28. Yum - I love Limoncello! It reminds me of holidays in Italy which is where I first tried it. I have to admit I'm very jealous of all of your lemon trees....sounds amazing! I would love to have a lemon tree or 2! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe - im definitely going to give it a go this summer and dream of lemon groves and Italy : )

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  29. Lucky you! Your lemoncello looks great. I always get them from the supermarkets.

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  30. Gorgeous! This post makes me wish that I hadn't recently bought a bottle of limoncello from the liquor store. Once that is gone...I will definitely be making my own. You have inspired me. Thanks for sharing!

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  31. Mmmm....a fun drink to try making at home.

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  32. My limoncello recipe is a little different. It's been sitting for about 35 days until day 40. The recipe was given to us by an old chef from a little neighborhood from Rome. So delish!

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  33. Looks great-I'd like to try making it with light agave syrup instead of the simple syrup!

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  34. i studied in italy and can appreciate a great limoncello! this looks seriously great! thanks for sharing, lots of love happening for this and all your posts :)
    -meg
    @ http://clutzycooking.blogspot.com

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  35. Perfecto! This is the drink that the good looking Italian boyfriend in Under the Tuscan Sun made for Diane Lane. I am so excited to try this one. Thanks for the post.

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  36. Thanks for your pictures & your recipe. I'm looking forward to making it!

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