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!|
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.
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.