Making Homemade Italian-style Limoncello
Whoa Nelly! This lemon flavoured vodka is delicate, sweet and totally lipsmackingly good. You're going to want to keep a large jar of this on hand in your fridge to impress your dinner guests, or maybe just hide it in the back of the fridge for yourself...
I first had Limoncello in Bologna, Italy, a few days before my now-husband proposed (he proposed on a park bench in a garden in Venice, clever boy). Naturally it brings back good memories. When I asked about it, I was told that anyone can make it themselves with only 4 ingredients:
Vodka, lemons, sugar and water!
Limoncello is commonly served as a digestif in Italy, and in fancy restaurants, so it does make for a lovely end to a dinner party, or a sweet nightcap ;)
The first time I tried making this, I got a fairly decent bottle of vodka, but some people also say you can use cheap vodka or even Everclear. It doesn't really matter all that much, I don't think, because you won't really taste the alcohol in the end.
For those of you wondering if vodka is gluten free, check out my recipe for a Gluten Free Ginger and Orange Blossom Water Cocktail for the debate on GF vodka.
While limoncello is usually really expensive in a restaurant, it's remarkably easy and cheap to make. The only difficult part of it is having the patience to wait long enough for the lemons to steep!
3 lemons (organic are best)
3 cups vodka
3/4 c brown sugar (again, organic is best)
1.5 cups water
1. Scrub your lemons with water and, if available, a mushroom or veggie brush (this is why organic is best, you don't want your vodka soaking up pesticides for a few weeks). Using a veggie peeler, thinly peel the lemons, careful to avoid getting any of the white pith.
|Lemon peels for limoncello|
2. Dump your peels into a large jar and pour your vodka over it. Let steep in a cupboard or on the counter for 12 days - 4 weeks (the longer the better).
Yep. This is the hard part. Just wait. It's worth it.
|Lemon and orange peels after 4 weeks of steeping|
3. When your vodka has reached a nice dark yellow colour, prepare your syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Strain the vodka to remove the peels. Mix together the lemon vodka and the syrup and chill.
In the next few days I'll try to put together a post with some suggestions on what you can do with those leftover peel-less lemons! I also tried this with orange peels, as you can see above, and that turned out amazing, too! And that only needed to steep 4 days before it had developed amazing flavour!