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Making Limoncello

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#361 KatieLoeb

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:35 AM

Jen:

You are most welcome. I remain amazed that this thread keeps getting bumped up by new Limoncello makers. It's awesome knowing I have helped to put tasty things in liquor cabinets all across the globe. :cool:

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#362 patris

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 05:15 AM

Oh, what fun this is! I stumbled upon huge bags of lemons and limes at BJ's yesterday, and thought I'd give 'cellos a shot. I used 6 oz. of grain alcohol in each bottle, and topped it up with some cheap stuff - Fleischman's. I am amazed how much color was extracted right away:

LIMEONCELLO.jpg

Hoping it will be ready in two weeks, when I head off to the Adirondacks for an annual reunion weekend with a couple college friends... definitely a far cry from the Hawaiian Punch and grain alcohol we enjoyed back in the day!
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#363 Luke

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 03:49 AM

Hi All,

Well, being totally inspired by this thread, I decided it was time to have a go at making some limoncello.

BoxOfLemons.jpg

While in the country, I picked up some Meyer lemons (for free). They were growing in an abandoned house, and in a fairly high altitude part of Victoria, Australia, called Mount Beauty. You can see the distinctive Golden colour of these lemons indicating their ripeness.

SelectedVictums.jpg

These lemons were small. About the same size as a lime. So using Loeb's recipe and factoring in that these were small lemons, I chose 18 to zest plus 1 lime as suggested.

Zest.jpg

Here is the zest I ended up with. It was removed using a microplane

Vodka.jpg

I could not easily source 100 proof Vodka at my local bottle shop, so I ended up with 86% proof (43% alcohol) Smirnoff. It tasted neutral which is good.

Mixed.jpg

The zest was added to the jar with the vodka, stirred, lid installed in place and now it sits on top of the fridge. I'll let you know how things progress.

One question: (not sure if this has been answered earlier in this thread). Can you successfully freeze zest? I plan to juice the rest of the lemons, but was thinking that I could zest and freeze it for later use before I juice them.

Cheers
Luke

Edited by Luke, 14 June 2010 - 04:00 AM.


#364 Landru

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 03:56 PM

Luke - Lemon zest does freeze well, but since it is kind of hard to get an airfree seal on a container suitable for the zest, it might pick up freezer odors if left in there too long. Ours also gets ice crystals from the residual moisture, but it doesn't harm it.

#365 vice

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 04:04 PM

I would think that a vacuum sealer would work fine (provided you've got one handy). What about drying it?
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#366 rooftop1000

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 04:43 PM

Has anyone ever tried "adjusting" commercial Limoncello? We picked up a bottle at the airport in Rome and it is pleasantly Pledge-y

I was thinking about adding some simple syrup...


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#367 Landru

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 11:32 AM

I would think that a vacuum sealer would work fine (provided you've got one handy). What about drying it?

Yes, a vacuum sealer would work - at the expense of easy access though if you're using bags. When we've dried peels (orange and lemon) we have noticed some alteration of flavor - you get more "carmel" notes - which can be very attractive when making a Grand Marnier type of liqueur but maybe not want you want when making limoncello. That was from drying it in a dehydrator - maybe it wouldn't happen if air dried?

@Rooftop: Simple syrup will round it out a bit. Also using a drop of orange bitters when making drinks might give it another dimension beyond Pledge.

#368 vice

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 01:27 PM

[quote name='Landru' date='18 June 2010 - 11:32 AM' timestamp='1276885948' post='1747425']
[quote name='vice' date='17 June 2010 - 03:04 PM' timestamp='1276815890' post='1747316']
When we've dried peels (orange and lemon) we have noticed some alteration of flavor - you get more "carmel" notes - which can be very attractive when making a Grand Marnier type of liqueur but maybe not want you want when making limoncello. That was from drying it in a dehydrator - maybe it wouldn't happen if air dried?[/quote]
I think microplaned zest dehydrates pretty quick even at room temperature, so it's worth a shot.
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#369 TAPrice

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 10:59 AM

Domenica, an Italian restaurant here in New Orleans, makes its limoncello (and other citrus liqueurs) by suspending whole fruit in cheesecloth above the Everclear. I don't know the exact procedure, but the results are incredible.

Anyone tried this? The chef said he picked up the technique in Italy.

The only downside is that you need a rather large jar. I also imagine that it takes longer to make a batch.
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#370 Luke

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 10:52 PM

Greetings fellow 'cello'ites.

My Myer lemon "limoncello" has been steeping away on top of the fridge for 4 and a bit weeks now. The zest did not go white, did it did lose color, and I decided it was "time". Here is the photo of the steeping zest vodka.

steeping.jpg

As suggested in this thread, I filtered the zest and vodka and squeezed out the last little bits of flavor.

finished.jpg

To sweeten, I read one of the posts on this site regarding simple sugar syrup, and made a concentrated syrup at 30% baume. I created a small spreadsheet to help me calculate the ratios and final alcohol content. If anyone would like the spreadsheet, please PM me and I will send it to you.

Spreadsheet.jpg

Taste Test after blending all ingredients.
- Very smooth, with a slight alcoholic heat. Maybe 33.4% is a little too strong.
- Sweetness is just right for my liking (ie: not too sweet)
- Flavor is mild - different from your "face squinting" lemon that I have had in the past. More subtle flavor, you can taste the "orange" components on the ripe Myer coming through.
- Different. Not what I was intending to make, but still very nice.

I'm going to give it a month to settle down and then I will re-evaluate the sweetness & alcohol level.

Recipe notes below.

My Notes for Limoncello Batch #1:
- Made 14/6/2010
- 18 small meyer lemons. Ripe.
Note: Possibility too ripe. Some greener lemons with strong aroma might have been better.
- 1 lime
- 1 x 700ml bottle of Smirnoff 43% alcohol vodka.
- Lemons and limes zested with microplane zester
Note: Need to be careful not to zest too hard.
- Zest equated to about 5 and a half tablespoons of moderately packed zest
- zest and vodka steeping in jar with lid.
- 4/7/2010
- Strained infused VODKA to separate zest
- Squeeze zest tightly after straining to extract extra
- Mix with sugar syrup (30% Baume) made using
§ 500ml Water
§ 675grams refined sugar
§ Add sugar and water to saucepan and heat until just boiling (or dissolved). Cool.
- Add 200ml of syrup to 700ml of flavored vodka.
§ 700ml infused vodka
§ 200ml syrup
§ Calculated alcohol 33.4%.

#371 tim

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:41 AM

Hi,

I have questions and would appreciate opinions:

Is there any experience with cheap ($16/fifth) 151 vodka for limoncello? It has to be better than Everclear.

Does steeping more than two weeks ever leave a bitter aftertaste? This is definitely the case with orangecello made from very fresh naval oranges but I don't know why.

Is it important to steep the peels in the dark?

What is the best time of year to get fresh lemons at major grocery chains?


Thanks for your thoughts.

Tim

#372 tim

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 05:35 AM

Hi,

I made limoncello from inexpensive filtered 151 proof vodka, from New Hampshire. The extraction was quick. I adjusted the ratios to achieve 30% alcohol. The cost was less than half of previous batches. There is no harshness and the resulting limoncello is excellent.

Tim

#373 Mel Z

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 06:25 PM

I've been infusing some vodka with lemon zest for the past week (half microplaned and half peeled because I got impatient!) for my first attempt at limoncello, and I was hoping someone could clear up what I see to be a point of contention between recipes. Is it better to strain the zest out before adding the simple syrup and letting the mixture set, or after? With the added water volume, can much more flavor be extracted from the zest? Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

#374 KatieLoeb

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:16 PM

Mel:

I always strain and squeeze, then add syrup and 80 proof vodka to taste and no water, but if you're using something higher proof than 100, I don't have any experience with that. As I've mentioned upthread, I'm no fan of using and/or consuming Everclear. I don't believe that was ever meant for human consumption, no matter how diluted. Tim's suggestion of using 151 proof vodka is an interesting one, but that's not a product I've ever had available to me so I have no opinion to offer on that.

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#375 Mel Z

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 05:45 AM

Thanks, Katie! I used Smirnoff triple-distilled, so the extraction may take longer but I'm hoping for a smoother taste. What is the purpose of adding additional vodka after the infusion? I had planned on adding simple syrup, and only water if I thought it was too strong.

#376 KatieLoeb

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:54 AM

Mel:

I dunno. I guess it never occurred to me to add water to dilute? Science isn't my strong suit, so all these complex calculations and measuring devices are so out of my league. I add simple syrup until it tastes as sweet as I like and then a small amount of 80 proof vodka to cut down the viscosity a bit. It's all "to taste" for me. I have no idea what the final proof of my limoncello is, but since I generally only drink it in small amounts, knowing that metric doesn't really matter to me.

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Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol


#377 Tri2Cook

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 10:13 AM

Started a batch this morning based on Katie's recipe. I couldn't follow it exactly, no high proof vodka available where I live, so I just used a bottle of Finlandia and I'll give it more time to infuse.

limoncello3.jpg
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#378 Tri2Cook

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 08:43 AM

A question: since I'm working with 80 proof vodka, would it be a good idea to make a 2:1 syrup instead of the 1:1 suggested in Katie's recipe then replace the missing amount of water from the syrup with vodka after it cools to keep from reducing the alcohol content too far? It would essentially still be a 1:1 but with 2 c. sugar and 1c. water + 1 c. vodka instead of the 2 c. water. Would there be any reason to do this or will the alcohol content still be okay just using the 1:1?
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#379 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:31 AM

A question: since I'm working with 80 proof vodka, would it be a good idea to make a 2:1 syrup instead of the 1:1 suggested in Katie's recipe then replace the missing amount of water from the syrup with vodka after it cools to keep from reducing the alcohol content too far? It would essentially still be a 1:1 but with 2 c. sugar and 1c. water + 1 c. vodka instead of the 2 c. water. Would there be any reason to do this or will the alcohol content still be okay just using the 1:1?


That sort of depends on what proof and sweetness level you desire out of your finished product, but for my own part when making liqueurs I try to use a richer syrup as it gives you more control over dilution and sweetness as independent variables. Generally speaking, a 2:1 syrup will be approximately equivalent in sweetening power to a given volume of granulated sugar, whereas a 1:1 syrup will have about 50% more water. In other words, a tbs of 2:1 simple has about a tbs of sugar in it, whereas a tbs of 1:1 simple has about 2 tsp of sugar in it. Maybe not exact enough for the laboratory, but it's pretty close.

If you use 2:1 syrup you can add water to control dilution (somewhat) independently of sweetness.
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#380 Heartsurgeon

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 12:49 PM

DO NOT use everclear

i made a batch, and essentially ended up with lemon scented cologne/hand sanitzer.

no amount of simple syrup or water made it taste good.

simply nasty. very harsh, medicinal flavor..kinda like drinking...cologne!

#381 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 02:11 PM

DO NOT use everclear

i made a batch, and essentially ended up with lemon scented cologne/hand sanitzer.

no amount of simple syrup or water made it taste good.

simply nasty. very harsh, medicinal flavor..kinda like drinking...cologne!


I've used high proof neutral spirits (ok, Everclear) to make limoncello and other liqueurs on several occasions and I think the trick to get rid of the medicinal/industrial character it imparts is to make sure it is well diluted/sweetened and then rest it for several months in a cool dark place. This not only takes the alcoholic edge off, it also integrates the flavors better and makes the apparent sweetness less pronounced as well. That, coupled with chilling to freezer temperature, will go a long way towards mitigating the character of raw ngs.

After all, any vodka one might use, regardless of proof, started out as 190 proof neautral spirit at some point. Add water, plus or minus a little filtration, and it all comes out more or less the same.
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#382 nakji

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 03:51 AM

I just put up my first bottle of limoncello at my husband's request. He doesn't ask for much, so I thought I'd make the leap.

I used 40% "Stolichnaya" and the zest of 12 lemons. The lemons cost more than the booze, which was likely fake. The only limes I had access to were some older key limes that are quite hard to zest, so I didn't bother.

The other irritant was that for once, I couldn't find any of the liquor-infusing bottles that are so common in Asia at any of my local supermarkets. I guess after plum season they stop selling them? Who knows. So I had to jam the zest into a narrow-necked bottle. God knows how I'm going to get it out again.

I did get a nice bright-yellow liquid right away, so I am thrilled about that. I'm going to give it two weeks in a cupboard before I assess the colour and make a syrup.

#383 HungryC

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 07:12 AM

DO NOT use everclear

i made a batch, and essentially ended up with lemon scented cologne/hand sanitzer.

no amount of simple syrup or water made it taste good.

simply nasty. very harsh, medicinal flavor..kinda like drinking...cologne!

I agree wholeheartedly. I made a big batch using Meyer lemons and everclear: after dilution and two years' aging, it still borders on the undrinkable. I'm planning to try again soon using a lower-proof spirit. I had an absolutely divine homemade limoncello on the Amalfi Coast late last winter, and the maker used ordinary vodka and those incredibly aromatic sfusato lemons. She also suggested that I probably steeped my peel/zest far too long. I brought a bottle home, and it's just as fragrant and fresh seven months later.

#384 nakji

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 04:01 PM

How long did you steep for?

#385 nakji

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 05:59 AM

Ok, I pulled mine after a two-week steep and mixed it with a 1:1 simple sugar in equal proportions, as I'm not bothered too much about the alcohol content. I started with a lower proportion - about 6 oz of sugar syrup to 8 oz of infused vodka, but it tasted too "thin" to me. I added syrup until it felt right in body. It's smooth and drinkable right away, so big ups to using Stoli.

It's chilling tonight, and coming with me to a friend's house for an Italian dinner tomorrow. I expect we'll finish the bottle.

#386 Tri2Cook

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:55 PM

Mine is now filtered, sugared and ready to spend a few weeks mellowing. I took a small taste and it's nice and lemony and not harsh at all. I noticed after a couple days that there are a few small cloudy clumps floating near the bottom. I'm assuming with 1.5 liters of 80 proof vodka sweetened with a syrup of 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water nothing to be worried about would be living in there so I think I'm going to pass it through a finer filter before bottling (I have it all in a gallon jar right now). I used a cone filter designed for filtering oil the first time, I'll go with a coffee filter next.
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#387 annabelle

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 05:55 PM

Katie, I want to make some of your Limoncello recipe for Christmas gifts (obviously, I don't need to start right now). How many 750ml bottles does your recipe make? I apologize if this has already been asked and answered. I haven't read the whole thread. And thanks to all for clearing up that Everclear question for me.

#388 KatieLoeb

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 08:50 PM

annabelle:

After the initial steep and then dilution you should get around 2-2.5 liters altogether. Of course that would depend on whether you started with 750ml bottles or liters. If you started with liter bottles I might throw in the zest of 3 or 4 more lemons and zest of at least half a lime more to remain relatively consistent with the recipe posted on the first page of this thread.

I've never measured. I just bottle it up in pretty containers and store it in the freezer or gift it. :shrug:

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#389 annabelle

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 11:53 AM

Thanks, Katie. I'll plan on about 2.5 times yield. That sounds about right. I'll even measure it so I can report back.

#390 jlaw

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 05:31 AM

has anyone here made limoncello with everclear and vodka? most people seem to dump on the everclear...

i have made 2 batches with it (actually some other brand of 190 or 195 proof alcohol) and i would say the result is very drinkable. now, i have no point of reference, as i have never had commercial product nor that made by anyone else...

just wonderin'





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