The liquid right after adding the alcohol…
One week into steeping, MUCH more yellow!
After the full two weeks the yellow has deepened to a lovely gold…
And the peels have gone pale and brittle…
I made some Limoncello and you should too!
Here’s the recipe- mind you this batch came out quite potent, you could cut the wattage down a bit if you wanted to. The lemon peels do need a high proof alcohol to get the full flavor out of them 80 proof at the minimum, but you could cut it with a lower proof after the soaking is complete. It’s important to try to find organic lemons if at all possible. You are stripping the color and flavor out of the peel and the rind is where pesticides and other yucky chemicals are absorbed if they are commercially produced. You need to find lemons that have a nice thick skin, and smell very lemony. If your lemons don’t smell at all- they won’t impart any lovely lemon flavor to your drink. Heaven forbid. What is the point, then. 😀
3oz (by weight) Lemon Peel (approximately 6 large lemons)
20oz (by volume) Everclear Grain Alcohol 190 proof
10oz Absolute Vodka 80 proof
1.5 liter jar that seals tightly
Peel lemons, being careful to only get the yellow part. The pith, the white underside, is very bitter and will make your limoncello bitter as well. I used a vegetable peeler, but you could also use a microplane grater. Put the peel into your jar and cover with the alcohol. I used the Le Parfait 1.5 Liter jar from Crate&Barrel.
Set in a cool dark place for approximately two weeks.
Since I started mine in early summer I kept my jar in the fridge because my apartment gets quite warm and I didn’t want it to go off. After about two weeks the liquid should be quite yellow and the lemon peels quite pale and brittle. Strain the solids out of the liquid and throw the solids away. Make sugar syrup (recipe below). Pour the alcohol mixture into a large container, preferably a large measuring jug, or something that is easy to pour from. Add the cooled sugar syrup. If you’ve gotten enough citrus oil from the zest, your mixture should transform from clear yellow to a lovely cloudy yellow. If it goes cloudy you know you’ve got a good batch!
Decant into smaller bottles that seal. I used the 8.5oz square hermetic bottles from The Container Store. Makes about seven 8.5oz bottles. Store Limoncello in the freezer. Because of the alcohol content it will not freeze, but become a syrupy liquid. Serve in tiny cordial glasses after a lovely meal, or add to cocktails and mixed drinks!
Sugar Syrup: To be made at the end of the steeping process.
3 cups Granulated Sugar
2 cups Water
Put water and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely melted. Set aside and cool completely.