Thursday, December 10, 2009

Making Limoncello

The one and only time I had Limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur) was a year and a half ago at a friend's house. About 3 months ago, though, my Dad starts raving about some he had. I'd seen several posts about it on the Winepress forum but it's not wine, so I wasn't overly interested.

But, if Dad wants Limoncello, I am by God going to make him some! Dad's 80-something now and complains he no longer can have anything but he admits to an occasional careful nip of this or that. I wish I'd started it right then; it'd almost be ready now but at least it'll be ready when the warmer weather comes.

2 evenings ago I find myself at the liquor store looking for 100 proof vodka. Almost all the vodka was 80 proof including (and especially!) the cheap huge bottles. I left with 1.75 liters of what I believe to the same stuff I often find empty in the alley behind my house. Might be prudent to use better quality vodka next time!

What is recommended is Everclear - pure grain alcohol (ethanol) at 151 or 190 proof. I know you can't buy the 190 proof here without a license. The school has one because they use ethanol in the labs but I'm pretty sure they'd frown on me ordering a couple liters for personal use. Too bad. If I ever see any anywhere, I'm getting it.

The reason for the high proof is that it is best kept in and served straight from the freezer. The lemon peel that is steeped in alcohol will get sweetened by using a sugar syrup which dilutes it. If the alcohol goes too low, the limoncello will freeze. Not as nice. Rock bottom final alcohol content is 30 percent and I'm only starting at 40 so I'll need to dissolve the sugar in as little water as possible. 50 percent would really be better. They (them that knows) say the color and flavor extraction is better with ethanol, too.

I think the nectar I made for the hummingbird feeder was 4 parts sugar, 1 part water. That's what I intend to try.

Yesterday I got 4 pounds of nice looking lemons. More than I needed but the loose lemons didn't look as nice so I ended up with two 2 pound bags. Lemon juice in and on everything for a while! I used a brand-new sharp vegetable peeler to remove the zest of 14 lemons without cutting into the pith. It took almost 2 hours plus I had to finish up the last 2 this morning. I have a blister but I also have nice big pieces of zest, not fine little grindings. Zest and vodka are in a sun tea jar and will be there for about 40 days before I strain it and sweeten it. Then another 40 days until I can bottle. That gives me plenty of time to locate a nice stoppered bottle for Dad.

Umm. I'm keeping some of it.

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