Friday, January 21, 2011

Lemons Twice Over: Limoncello and Lemonade Mix

January is citrus season, and beyond my experiments with marmalade, I'm venturing to make a few other things with the great organic citrus that seems so abundant. I've wanted to make Limoncello for a while, but for some reason, kept thinking of it as a summer beverage, and only recently realized that it'd be best to make it NOW (when, as I said, citrus is abundant), so it can have a few months to age before we consume it.

I've made infused liquor exactly once--soaking blueberries in vodka for a few months, then mixing with a simple syrup and allowing the mixture to mellow. At the time that I made it, it was only half-intentional--we had too many blueberries for me to know what to do with (at the time), and a bottle of vodka sitting around; thus, the liquor was born. And because we only had a quart of it, it's been carefully

rationed--in fact, we still have some sitting around on the bottom of a jar in our liquor cabinet.

Most limoncello recipes are pretty basic: zest or peel (organic) lemons, put the zest into a glass container with (some kind of) grain alcohol, and wait. Then strain the mixture, mix with simple syrup, and allow to age/mellow for a few months before consuming. Usually, the ratio of simple syrup to alcohol is 1:1; usually, the zest is allowed to infuse for at least two weeks. Otherwise, the limoncello recipes vary little--some people swear by a fine zest, while others insist that peeling the lemons in wide strips produces a clearer limoncello. Most people will recommend a higher proof alcohol (the highest you can find, really), as it extracts more of the lemon essence. For our batch, I mostly peeled the lemons, after realizing that our old zester is getting dull, and put the peels into containers with 190 proof Everclear. I think that after thirty days, or so, it'll be ready for the next step of the process.

After peeling a dozen or so lemons, I was left with...well, the lemons. I looked at them for a minute or so, and decided that there was no better way to use them than to make a lemonade mix (or lemon syrup). I combined 2.5 cups of lemon juice with 4.5 cups of sugar, brought it just to boiling, ladled into jars, and now am a proud owner of two and a half pints of lemon syrup! The syrup will be good to have on hand for many things, especially when summer comes around; we usually end up buying a few bottles of good organic lemonade at the store because it looks so tempting, and the syrup will be a good substitute.


Julia said...

Indeed. Best to plan ahead, right? I made limoncello last year, and I have to admit that it didn't come out quite so stellar. But if at first you don't succeed...

zemmely said...

Oh no! What went wrong with your limoncello? I've had bad experiences working with Everclear (something about not letting the simple syrup cool COMPLETELY before combining...), and am proceeding with caution this time. I'll post again when the limoncello is ready for consumption.