Sunday, August 3, 2014


It takes a really long time to make limoncello.  First you carefully zest the lemons, making sure to get only the yellow part of the peel and none of the bitter white.  And none of your knuckles.   Remember, this is Limoncello, not Bloody Mary Mix.

Then you put the zest in a jar with vodka or Everclear...and wait.  And wait.
After 40 days or so (is there an ark in this story?  and a really big rainstorm?  alas, no.)  Anyway!  where was I?  Oh yeah, after 40 days you boil sugar and water together, and add it to the boozy mixture...and wait.  And wait.  Another 40 days.

It's supposed to be strained thru a coffee filter, but I want to tell you that is soooooooo slow - one drip at a time.  I thought it was gonna take another 40 days just to filter it, so I got out the finest mesh strainer I could find, and in no time flat it was strained.  A bit cloudy, but hey, it's a home made product, so who expects perfection?  
I mean just look at the mis-matched jars - it so says home made, hand crafted.  And really, what's better?
(Um, okay mom, you might want to weigh in here on all the ceramic ash trays I made for you - by hand - when I was in school.  Obviously not the life-long treasures my teachers told me they would be, hand-made drips and lumps and all.  And I must confess it hurt my feelings a weensy bit when you gave them all back to me a few years ago, but with time and therapy I'm sure I'll get over it.  Some day.)

Now where was I?  Oh yes, on my way to therapy...and to the store to get coffee filters, because the next morning all that quick-filtered Limoncello had a thick wad of scum at the top.  Yuck.  Very unappetizing.  So out came the coffee filters, and it took all day.  But just look at the difference!  
Note:  wet the coffee filter before you pour in the Limoncello.  And use one filter per quart - that's about all they can filter before they clog up.  

So now I have a few precious bottles and jars of delicious clear pale yellow Limoncello in my pantry.  (Actually, they're in the wine cellar, but don't tell Wally.)  And I've ordered labels from My Own  (They are calling themselves Evermine now, but that so sounds like a sappy wedding site that I cannot bring myself to call them by their new name.)  

So if you come for dinner and it's a nice evening, check the freezer.  There just might be a bottle of pale yellow limoncello in there for us to share.  Yum.

And here is the recipe I used from Linda Stradley.  Please give her credit if it turns out well - she is an amazingly detailed writer and so clear!  (unlike my Limoncello...) 

And check out her website.

Italian Limoncello - How To Make Limoncello
This is my (Linda Stradley) personal recipe for Italian Limoncello that my husband and I make every year.
15 lemons*
2 (750 ml) bottles 100-proof vodka or 1 (750 ml) bottle of Everclear (190-proof) alcohol
4 cups granulated sugar
5 cups water (filtered tap water or distilled water)
* Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. The lemons must be yellow and not tinted with green.

Step One:
Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry. 
Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello. Check out my web page on How to Zest Lemons.

Step Two:
In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar with lid), add vodka or Everclean alcohol.
Add the lemon zest as it is zested. 
Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place.

The longer the mixture rests, the better the end taste will be. (There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest. 

Step Three:

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; bring to a gentle boil and let boil, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. 
Add cooled sugar mixture to the Limoncello mixture (from Step One). 
Cover jar and allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days. 

Step Four:
After the rest period, strain the limoncello; discarding the lemon zest. Pour strained Limoncello in bottle/bottles (of your choice) and seal tightly.

NOTE: Coffee filters or cheesecloth work great for straining the mixture. Moisten the filters before beginning the straining process. 
Keep your bottle/bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve ice cold.

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