The smell of grated lemon evokes a swirl of memories for me (right up there with garlic, basil and rosemary) . A most recent memory is of coming home to find my creative, fabulous and very talented sister in law (also incredibly patient evidently, given she is married to one of my brothers) grating lemon after lemon with a super fine micro-plane – 150 lemons to be exact!
My brother blended the lemon zest and alcohol mixture then put her up ‘to rest’ for 40 days. Lots of tasting was involved! And following their life mantra of not letting anything go to waste, they took the lemon detritus and made Marmellata di Limone, a citrus base for our Italian Margaritas and Lemon Curd.
Most special of all, this past year my daughter gave me a lemon tree for Mother’s Day. This fragrant lemon tree, which is ‘wintering’ indoors Chez Dobbs, gave us lemons galore to contribute to this batch of Limoncello.
As always, we all ended up in the kitchen in one way or another.
- 1 liter grain alcohol
- 0.5 liter vodka
- 1.5 liters distilled or filtered water
- 2.2 lbs white sugar
- 25 lemons zested with no pith (that bitter, white inner peel)
Zest the lemons with a microplane zester, making sure there is no white inner peel – pith is bitter!
Zest the lemons directly into the alcohol – if left exposed to the air, the zest loses most of its aromatic substance very quickly. Use a non-reactive container (glass or ceramic). Stir well and store in a cool dark place for 3 to 4 weeks.
When you are ready to bottle the Limoncello, prepare your simple syrup. To make simple syrup, boil the water, add the sugar and boil for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Cool the syrup to room temperature.
Strain the alcohol mixture, using cheesecloth, a coffee filter or a fine linen pillowcase, into a large container and stir in the simple syrup (at a 4 parts alcohol to 5 parts syrup ratio) and mix thoroughly, then pour into your favorite bottle. Taste liberally.
Allow another week or two for the flavors to combine into perfection. In Italy, Limoncello is traditionally served chilled as a digestive, but there is no reason not to enjoy it anytime! My dear friend Carla shared her recipe for Berries Con Limoncello. Douse raspberries, blackberries and strawberries with Limoncello. Let sit in the fridge for several hours then serve with lightly whipped heavy cream, marscarpone and a hint of sugar. Top with a wafer cookie.
If you have any questions about making the best Limoncello, just send me a message.