Saturday, January 19, 2013


Well friends I either have entirely too much time on my hands or this chilly weather has got me feeling too cooped up and itching for projects.  I decided to give making homemade limoncello a try!  My Daddy is a big fan of limoncello and coincidentally we celebrated his birthday this week!  He happened to be in Columbus for work so my Mom drove down and surprised him at dinner with us!

Like I said, big fan!

A little throwback to the younger years.  Still the best Daddy a girl could have!

So here's how this cocktail idea came about.  Last month I was at the liquor store I happened to have some limoncello in my basket for my Daddy (he loves Tessora), when the cashier told me one of their regular customers (pause, the fact that she didn't recognize me anymore as one of their "regulars" was downright offensive, I practically kept their business afloat during my kickball seasons!  Not to mention I felt like the owner's next of kin for awhile there!) anyways, one of their other regulars was telling her how he and his wife make their own limoncello as well as their own wine.  Now I wasn't as intrigued on the wine front, my aunt and uncle make it and I have no desire to try and tackle that beast just yet.  But the limoncello?  Hmmm my little cocktail loving brain started turning its gears!  I knew once I got back to the computer I had to look up a how to, of course Pinterest is where I landed!

I started doing my research, some recipes were calling for grain alcohol and vodka, some just called for just grain alcohol, some just called for vodka.  One thing that did remain consistent was try to use organic lemons if possible and avoid getting pith (the white stuff in between the peel and the lemon fruit) in it because that will make it bitter.  Some said to use a veggie peeler, some said use a microplane zester.  But the long and short of it was you use lemon peel, alcohol, and simple syrup to make this little concoction.  The catch is that its a lengthy process (up to 7 weeks!).

At first I set about my limoncello journey thinking I would have to use the vodka recipe as I was under the guise that Everclear could not be purchased in Ohio.  I went to Kroger (which also has a liquor store inside of it, hello awesome!) for my supplies (lemons and vodka).  As I was perusing the vodka I look up to a complete surprise on the top shelf: Everclear!  This shortened my original vodka process by 3 weeks!  I was just giddy, thinking of how I could package it up as gifts for the holidays!  But then I checked myself a little and decided I should just experiment first so before I give to others I'll have it mastered!

- 10 organic lemons
- 1 bottle (750mL) high proof alcohol (Everclear or you can use a high proof vodka, try for anything higher than 100 proof)
- 3 c. water
- 2 c. sugar 
- you'll need a large sealable jar, as well as some bottles to put the finished product in!

So start by washing your lemons thoroughly.
Then take a microplane grater and zest all of the lemons, be mindful not to include any pith (the white stuff between the fruit and the skin).
With the leftover lemons you can slice them and freeze them, juice them and freeze it or put it in the fridge for cooking uses.  I juiced most of mine and froze the juice in ice cube trays then popped them out and put them in a freezer bag.  When I need fresh lemon juice for cooking I take a few cubes out and use those.
Put the lemon zest in your jar, then pour in your Everclear.
Seal the jar and let it sit for at least three weeks (if using vodka let sit for at least six weeks) in a cool, dark place. 

Three weeks later it should look like this.
You'll see the alcohol will have taken on the yellow color from the lemon.  The lemon zest will have turned white and brittle, leave it in the jar with the lemon infused alcohol.
Next, you make the simple syrup.  In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil, pour in the sugar, when the sugar completely dissolves take pan off of heat and let cool.

Once simple syrup is cooled to room temperature pour in to lemon infused alcohol.  Stir it up, seal jar and put back away for at least a week.
After a week or more, strain limoncello with either a fine sieve or use cheesecloth over a strainer.
Then strain it again as you funnel it into bottles, you want to make sure you strain out all that zest so your finished product is clear.
There you have it, homemade limoncello!  Store it in the freezer or back in a cool, dark place.  Serve in chilled cordial glasses for a great after dinner drink!

It turns out it's a good thing I didn't give these as gifts.  It ended up being some pretty high test stuff!  Although the sweetness was spot on and the lemon flavor was great there was still too much of an after burn and not enough smoothness for my tastes.  Daddy and Chris said it was fine for sipping but I didn't much care for it.  I imagine it would be good in a lemon drop martini or limoncello lemonade.  So it's back to the test kitchen for me!

 Hope you enjoy this cocktail creation!  Tonight Chris and I are seeing a Cirque show with friends, this is a first for me so I'm very excited!  Next I'll share a great pork tenderloin recipe we tried last weekend along with some crafts I made!


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