So when life gives you lemons, how about cutting right to the chase? Skip that lemonade stand and make some limoncello! Limoncello is basically an Italian lemon liquor that my family was crazzzy about a few years back. Some of my great-uncles even made their own batch and passed bottles out to the family around Christmastime. Really fun, delicious stuff, right?
So when I discovered this recipe on foodgawker.com, I felt that I just had to give it a try. I quickly called up Michael Anthony (not an Italian-enough name, right?), and asked if he wanted to try it out. Basically, Mike and I have conquered desserts and real-foods of all sorts, but haven't explored the booze-making world all that much. Welcome to our limoncello adventure.
It was decided that we were going to make a half recipe of the drink, which would yield 3 1/2 cups of the drink. Definately plently, as limoncello is traditionally sipped in small amounts. However, once word got out on the street of what we were making, my mom ordered two more bottles, and Mike's mom wanted one, as well. Sigh. Which meant we would need to double the recipe. We were up to the challenge.
Our shopping list was a bit funny...thirty lemons and two fifths of Burnett's. I can only imagine what people thought when passing our cart full o' lemons and cheap booze....haha. Also, I am sure that a nicer vodka would make the limoncello even more delcious (Absolut, Stoli, etc.), but us Poor College Students thought Burnett's would do. Hey, at least we didn't chose Mohawk or Five O'Clock. Afterall, we wouldn't want to serve rubbing alcohol-like vodka to our relatives, right? :)
Anyway, once home, we got to work zesting and pithing the lemons. My job title? The Zester Master. And Mike's job? The Pith Master. I used a peeler to peel the zest off of the thirty lemons (I never want to see another lemon again....), and Mike used a small paring knife (a fillet knife works well, too) to get the excess pith off of the peels.
The aftermath. I was entertained by the fact that it looked like a bunch of drunks had come through my kitchen. And those two shady-looking bottles on the left with no labels? We removed the labels to make our own once the limoncello is finished. A name for the limoncello is still underconstruction, though I'm thinking Lucky Yellow Limoncello has a fun ring to it. The limoncello being "lucky" really has nothing to do with it, except for a bit of alliteration going on there. I'd like to think that the fluorescent yellow hue that the limoncello aquires with age, however, is lucky in a way...haha. Or at least shady-looking, to say the least.
Here's allllll the zest in the vodka, waiting to sit in a cool, dark place (aka your local kitchen cabinet) for two months. Yes, you heard me right. Two months, people. That's a long wait for a delicious drink. And that's only half of it....at that time, you whip up the sugar mixture to add to the vodka-lemon zest concotion and THEN add the other half of the vodka from the recipe. In our case, this means two more fifths of vodka will be poured into here. Yum.
Ohhhhh, pretty. :) By the end of the night, the vodka was already taking on a pretty yellow color. And for the record, this concotion is sitting in two glass gallon jars that were made to hold milk....which is why the bottle says "Real Milk in Real Glass".
Look back in two months for Lucky Yellow Limoncello: Sugar Edition!
2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
Wash the lemons in hot water. Dry them.
Use a zester or peeler to zest the rings. If some pith gets on there, remove it with a small pointly knife. Make sure you do so, or the limoncello will be spoiled.
In a big glass jar, pour in half of the vodka. As you are zesting, drop strands of the lemon peel inside. Close it up well, and leave it somewhere cool and dark (like a closet) for two months.
After two months, make the syrup. In a sauce pan. cook the sugar and water over medium heat until thickened slightly (about 5-10 minutes). Cool completely. Take the bottle out to add the syrup and the rest of the vodka.
Close it up, and put it back in the cool, dark place for another month or so. When ready, take the bottle out, disgard the peels, strain the limoncello, and drink and be merry. You may also put it in the freezer until ready to serve, to chill.