Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Limoncello

I officially fail at has been almost a month since my last post.  Good news is, I have a TON to post about, so be prepared for multiple new posts in a (hopefully) short time span (provided my life cooperates). 

Anyway, on one of my many, MANY trips home to Iowa last summer (yes, this is a very old topic), I went to a party at my bother and sister-in-law's house.  At this party, my sister-in-law, Amanda, served delicious limoncello that SHE MADE HERSELF!  Hers turned out so well, I asked for instructions and made my own! 

 (note - this is my finished limoncello, not a giant jar of pee)

Ok, so...limoncello is fairly easy to make.  First you peel 15 lemons, being careful not to get any of the pith (the white part) and put the peel in an airtight container with a Texas fifth of vodka.  To peel, I used a potato peeler and it worked very well.  Also, use cheap vodka.  Some of the instructions I found and read also said to squeeze the juice of the lemon in.  I didn't do that and I think my tastes fantastic, so do what you want. 

Put your container in a a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks, picking it up and shaking/jostling it once a week.  Really, you can stay at this step for as long as you want and it just gets more lemony...(that's a word, I promise).

After your vodka has soaked up all of the lemony goodness, you need to strain out all of the peels.  I used a couple layers of cheese cloth in a strainer.  This is where I got creative.  I purchased a big bin that I could set my strainer in and poured everything in there.  I'm sure you can probably accomplish the straining process by using bowls or pans or something, but this just seemed to work better for me.

After you strain everything out, you add simple syrup.  To make simple syrup, all you need is four cups of water and four cups of sugar.  Boil the water and then slowly add the sugar, allowing the sugar to dissolve completely after each addition.

Once you have simple syrup, add it to the lemon vodka.  This is the part I found most tricky.  I couldn't decide whether it was ok to add a hot liquid to my lemon vodka, so I decided to let it cool.  The problem was that I wanted to take it out of the pan I made it in to let it cool, so I poured it into this lovely pitcher.

That lead to problem two, I spilled sticky sugar water all over my counter.  Problem three was that I made a double batch of limoncello, and therefore needed to double the simple syrup...and that took WAY TOO LONG to cool down.  In the end, I added warm simple syrup, and everything turned out fine (tastes good and is still very alcoholic).

After you mix your simple syrup to your lemon vodka, put the container back in a cool dark place for two more weeks, shaking/jostling once a week.  Then, finally, you are ready to drink!

Limoncello tastes like a sugary-lemon drink.  It is DELICIOUS. 

Amanda puts hers in mason jars and keeps one in her freezer and the rest in her pantry.  I do the same (except I don't have a pantry, so I keep the remainder of mine on my counter).  You can apparently make the same type of drink with any citrus fruit.  It is good combined with lemonade (I made fresh squeezed and it was fantastic), lemon-lime soda, or by itself!

Words of wisdom - if you are giving it away as a gift, please clearly explain what it is (and don't just leave it in a mason jar sitting on someone's desk...).  I left mason jar's on people's desks, and one person thought it was a jar of pee.  Seriously.  I told someone else it was limoncello and to put it in his freezer...he thought I said "lemon jello" and was planning to give it to his kids...enunciation is key!

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