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‘cello time!

February 8, 2011

Limoncello is magical. I’m not talking about the stuff they sell at the liquor store that tastes like furniture polish, I’m talking about the homemade kind. This is some life-enhancing stuff.

This is a delicious after-dinner tipple, the perfect thing to pour over ice cream or a fruit dessert, and makes a fantastic champagne cocktail (or prosecco cocktail). People think I’m fancy when I tell them that their cocktail or dessert involves homemade liqueur, but seriously, this is EASY-EASY.

The wonderful California Meyer lemons I’m used to using for this recipe are not available here, so I made two batches, one with calamansi and one with pomelo. They turned out wonderfully, so experiment with whatever great citrus you can get your hands on.

Here’s what you need:
16 lemons (or equivalent)
one 750-ml bottle of 100-proof liquor (grain alcohol like everclear or 100-proof vodka)
one 750-ml bottle of 80-proof vodka (that’s the standard strength)
4 cups white sugar
4 cups filtered water

Method:
1. Zest your citrus. A microplane grater is best for this. Put the zest in a gallon-size glass jar (with a lid) with the booze. Wait about four weeks. Or whatever. I’ve left it for months and nothing bad happened. If you remember to stir it once a week, that’s not a bad idea.
2. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
3. While the syrup is cooling, filter the zest and booze through a paper coffee filter. I use one of those little plastic one-cup coffee filter jobbies.
4. Add the syrup to the filtered citrusy booze to taste. It will still taste harsh, but don’t be alarmed and resist the urge to over-sweeten. You can always add more syrup later if you want to. For the calamansi batch, I needed only about 75% of the syrup.
5. Bottle your mixture (I use leftover bottles from liquor and screw-top wine, but if you want to be cute, or give the limoncello as a gift, there are plenty of attractive bottles out there). Let it rest in the bottle for at least two weeks.
6. Chill in the freezer at least 24 hours before serving. Serve icy cold.

Notes on ingredients:
* Use delicious fresh fruit for this. Do you have a friend with a lemon tree? Will someone at the farmers market give you a deal if you buy in quantity? Now is the time to call in that favor.
* In contrast, you don’t need to use fancy booze. Don’t go too cheap, because cheap vodka has an off flavor, but don’t spend more than twenty bucks a bottle, it’s a waste. Personally, I use Smirnoff.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2011 2:25 am

    Gah! This reminded me that I was supposed to send you the link to the recipe I saw for mushrooms with calamansis. Voilá: http://nymag.com/restaurants/recipes/inseason/69096/.

    Glad you’re safely home and making yummy stuff. Still, we miss you tons.

    • arlemonbar permalink*
      February 9, 2011 9:14 am

      Thank you, that looks really tasty! I miss you tons, too.

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