Have you ever had limoncello? Stunningly cold straight from the freezer, sweet, and full of bright (but not sour) lemon flavor? It tastes like the essence of summer.
A few weeks ago, I attended the SNAP conference, and I'm very glad I was warned ahead of time that creative blogger conferences are NOT like most conferences (even other non-crafty blogger conferences). You don't just bring your business card to these things. You make a clever little gift to go along with the business cards.
My friend Jen came up with the idea of making limoncello with lemons from my backyard tree. A little bit of Phoenix sunshine from Tikkido. I loved the idea, and set to work.
Start be peeling the zest off of the lemons. Be careful not to get the bitter white pith, just the outer layer of the skin. This is why I specify organic lemons: we're using just the outside zest, and I wouldn't want any nasty pesticides in my beautiful limoncello. I'm lucky enough to have a lemon tree in the backyard that produces hundreds of lemons each year with very little effort or attention on my part. I know my lemons are organic because I know I haven't sprayed them with anything offensive! But if I were purchasing lemons to make limoncello, I'd definitely seek out organic.
Fill lidded, non-reactive containers (like these glass canning jars) with the lemon peel, then cover the peel with the Everclear, close the container, and put it in a cool, dark place to sit for a couple weeks.
A lot of limoncello recipes use vodka instead of everclear, and that works reasonably well, if you just can't find everclear. But take a look at the picture above. The container on the right had been stewing for two weeks in 80 proof vodka. The container on the left had been sitting for just a few days in Everclear. The limoncello made with Everclear is dramatically more colorful and flavorful; the Everclear does a much better job of pulling the flavor and color out of the lemon peel.
After about two weeks (could be less, could be more--it's up to you, really!), strain the liquid from the lemon peel.
Look at that gorgeous color! That's what you get from using Everclear. Combine the sugar and water over low heat until the sugar dissolves, and a simple syrup is formed. Mix the simple syrup with the highly alcoholic and lemony Everclear.
Bottle, store in the freezer (don't worry, these suckers are not going to freeze with such a high alcohol content), and enjoy on a hot summer day. It's delicious alone, or mixed in a cocktail. I used limoncello in a drink I invented for Dia de los Muertos, called the Marigold Muerte. It also makes a truly excellent, very potent, extremely adult, watermelon lemon slushie.
Those little 50ml sized bottles are absolutely perfect for a single serving of the limoncello! Plus they're just damn cute. We've already established my fondness for miniature things. I'll have more details on the packaging in tomorrow's post.