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Making Limoncello

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#211 JAZ

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 11:43 AM

When I buy waxed lemons, I scrub them with dish soap and very hot water and then rinse thoroughly. It's always worked for me.

#212 trcroyle

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 03:04 PM

We're considering other cello options as well.  Blood oranges have started popping up in supermarkets and we recently found an Asian grocery with some unique offerings.

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IMO, blood oranges aren't all that exciting for 'cello. Most of the flavor is in the flesh, the zest isn't significantly different than a regular orange.

On the other hand, they're pretty cool for things like ratafias, where the juice and zest of the orange is used. I haven't ever made one; but, I think you also use the whole orange for vin d'orange.

edit - fix typo

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I'll have to disagree here. I made a run of cellos this year lemon, bergamot, etrog citron, lime, and grapefruit. But far and away the tastiest was the blood orange-cello made with Moro blood oranges. I give every citrus at the store a good finger scrape looking for intersting fragrances. I won't claim that the taste is demonstrably different than a genreic orange-cello since I didn't make any this year to compare, but I would certainly call the finished product exciting. A side note: I think, if nothing else, the color is more interesting since the ruddier blood orange peel makes for a darker orange extract.

#213 eje

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 06:21 PM

I'll have to disagree here. I made a run of cellos this year lemon, bergamot, etrog citron, lime, and grapefruit. But far and away the tastiest was the blood orange-cello made with Moro blood oranges. I give every citrus at the store a good finger scrape looking for intersting fragrances. I won't claim that the taste is demonstrably different than a genreic orange-cello since I didn't make any this year to compare, but I would certainly call the finished product exciting. A side note: I think, if nothing else, the color is more interesting since the ruddier blood orange peel makes for a darker orange extract.

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Cool!

Well, I'd be glad to be proved wrong!

What did you think of the bergamot 'cello?

I've always held Earl Grey tea against bergamot oranges, so haven't wanted to try doing much with them. However, this year I had a very nice Bergamot preserve, which caused me to re-think my position on them.

I'm also interested in trying a 'cello with Seville oranges, if I can ever find them at a half way decent price.
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#214 BTR

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 06:53 PM

I'll have to disagree here. I made a run of cellos this year lemon, bergamot, etrog citron, lime, and grapefruit. But far and away the tastiest was the blood orange-cello made with Moro blood oranges. I give every citrus at the store a good finger scrape looking for intersting fragrances. I won't claim that the taste is demonstrably different than a genreic orange-cello since I didn't make any this year to compare, but I would certainly call the finished product exciting. A side note: I think, if nothing else, the color is more interesting since the ruddier blood orange peel makes for a darker orange extract.

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How did the grapefruit turn out? How many did you use?

#215 Shalmanese

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 12:24 AM

Has anyone tried the Brita filter trick on everclear to get rid of some of the harshness? It seems it would produce the optimal limoncello. Also, why is lemon juice never used in lemoncello? Does it discolour? Is the flavour unpleasant?

The fundamentals of X-cello seem to be quite basic. You want to bring alcohol, sugar, water and essential oils into the correct balance. IMHO, the most logical way to do this would be to filter through a whole bunch of everclear (and store whats not used for later infusions) and then use only a minimal amount to infuse the zests with. Make up a highly concentrated sugar syrup of about 4:1 sugar to water, the water is only there to help the sugar dissolve (again, make more than you need, the excess can be safely stored in the pantry). Then, just play around with varying amounts of lemon extract, sugar syrup, chilled vodka/everclear and chilled water until the right balance is reached. This way, it's almost impossible to screw it up as you can always correct the balance if something goes out of whack.

Even better, the components by themselves are useful. I always have concentrated sugar syrup on hand as it can be used for lemonade and other mixed drinks as well as when you need a quick, subtle sugar boost for something like a tomato sauce. It's also great as a base for caramels. The lemon extract, you could use like you would use vanilla extract in desserts, as a subtle flavouring agent. Or you could use it in other cocktails or mocktails in which you dont want the sweetness. With a bit of experimentation, an enterprising person could determine the optimal amount of alcohol to lemon zest by infusing the spent lemon zest with some more everclear and seeing if anything is extracted. I'm willing to bet you should only need 1/10th or less the stated amount of alcohol to do the extraction properly.

This seems like a far more sensible way to make lemoncello IMHO.
PS: I am a guy.

#216 donbert

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 08:25 AM

Has anyone tried the Brita filter trick on everclear to get rid of some of the harshness? It seems it would produce the optimal limoncello. Also, why is lemon juice never used in lemoncello? Does it discolour? Is the flavour unpleasant?


I don't think that the brita trick would do anything for everclear. Given that it is 95% alcohol what you're tasting is the just the alcohol and not the other "flavors" that a brita would pull out of the water component of cheap vodka.

You use the zest because you want the concentrated flavor from the oils rather than the much more dilute juice which also contains sugar.

With a bit of experimentation, an enterprising person could determine the optimal amount of alcohol to lemon zest by infusing the spent lemon zest with some more everclear and seeing if anything is extracted. I'm willing to bet you should only need 1/10th or less the stated amount of alcohol to do the extraction properly.


Do you mean 1/10 after dilution or before? I doubt that there would be a big difference in the % of alcohol by volume in the end product.

#217 Shalmanese

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:01 AM

I don't think that the brita trick would do anything for everclear. Given that it is 95% alcohol what you're tasting is the just the alcohol and not the other "flavors" that a brita would pull out of the water component of cheap vodka.


I don't see why it wouldn't work. The reason everclear has such a bite is not because of its proof, it's because it contains lots of impurities due to a not-so-strict filtering process. Diluted down to the same proof as vodka, it should in theory taste exactly the same if those impurities were not present.

You use the zest because you want the concentrated flavor from the oils rather than the much more dilute juice which also contains sugar.


I'm saying why not zest AND juice?

Do you mean 1/10 after dilution or before? I doubt that there would be a big difference in the % of alcohol by volume in the end product.


I'm saying that instead of the traditional 750mL of vodka to 15 lemon zests, you could probably get away with 75mL of everclear and get something akin to super-concentrated lemon extract. Sorta like vanilla extract.
PS: I am a guy.

#218 mrbigjas

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:42 AM

I'm saying that instead of the traditional 750mL of vodka to 15 lemon zests, you could probably get away with 75mL of everclear and get something akin to super-concentrated lemon extract. Sorta like vanilla extract.



only one way to find out...

a bottle of everclear costs what, like $10? (i honestly don't know; we can't get it here in PA). seems like for $20 or so you could have plenty of booze and lemons to set up a nice experiment with different filtering batches and peel and juice batches and control groups and the whole nine yards...

#219 slkinsey

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 07:25 AM

You use the zest because you want the concentrated flavor from the oils rather than the much more dilute juice which also contains sugar.

I'm saying why not zest AND juice?

Simple: Because then it wouldn't be limoncello. Limoncello is a liqueur containing lemon oil, alcohol, water and sugar. The addition of lemon juice would completely change the character of the liqueur. In addition, lemon juice doesn't have such good storage properties. Eventually the lemon juice will throw off a brown cloudy sediment that would have to be filtered out (this is what my family does every year with the Fish House Punch we make ahead of time and age a year for our Xmas party).

I'm saying that instead of the traditional 750mL of vodka to 15 lemon zests, you could probably get away with 75mL of everclear and get something akin to super-concentrated lemon extract. Sorta like vanilla extract.

This is more or less the way "real" limoncello is made. Commercial producers use high proof grain alcohol to extract the lemon oils, add sugar and dilute down to bottle proof with water. The problem with doing this at home is that it is very difficult to get decent quality high proof grain alcohol at retail -- most of it is swill. Using a decent quality 100 proof vodka seems like a reasonable compromise: it should be considerably smoother than the high proof grain alcohol and it extracts at a slower rate due to the lower proof, which provides a larger margin of error for the nonprofessional in deciding when to stop the extraction.
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#220 moosnsqrl

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 07:53 AM

If you're reading this thread you probably already know just about everything about Limoncello, but in the event something has escaped your attention, current Saveur has a nice piece about the lemons of Sorrento and it includes what looks to be a fairly traditional recipe/methodology.
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#221 donbert

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 07:56 AM

I don't see why it wouldn't work. The reason everclear has such a bite is not because of its proof, it's because it contains lots of impurities due to a not-so-strict filtering process. Diluted down to the same proof as vodka, it should in theory taste exactly the same if those impurities were not present.


The problem with doing this at home is that it is very difficult to get decent quality high proof grain alcohol at retail -- most of it is swill. 


What is the difference between low and high quality high proof grain alcohol? Is it really just a matter of filtering as with cheap vodka?

only one way to find out...


I have plenty of everclear, now I just need to find a brita filter. I don't suppose anyone wants to volunteer to judge the results...:wacko:

#222 slkinsey

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 08:35 AM

I don't see why it wouldn't work. The reason everclear has such a bite is not because of its proof, it's because it contains lots of impurities due to a not-so-strict filtering process. Diluted down to the same proof as vodka, it should in theory taste exactly the same if those impurities were not present.

The problem with doing this at home is that it is very difficult to get decent quality high proof grain alcohol at retail -- most of it is swill.

What is the difference between low and high quality high proof grain alcohol? Is it really just a matter of filtering as with cheap vodka?

There's a little more to it than that. Vodka starts out, more or less, as cheap shitty high proof alcohol. That alcohol is then rectified (a process of diluting and selectively re-distilling the alcohol) and filtered, both with the goal of removing as many as possible of the substances in the wash that are not ethyl alcohol. These include things like ethyl acetate, ethyl lactate, fusel oils like 1-propanol, 2-propanol, butanol, amyl alcohol and furfural, methanol and other such things. In an unaged raw alcohol, these substances produce off-flavors, solvent-like aromas and a harsh, hot bite. In the end, the vodka producer ends up with a fairly pure solution of ethyl alcohol and water at around 95% abv. This is then diluted down to bottle proof with water (and tiny amounts of other things the vodka producers don't want you to know about). This is why vodka producers like to tell you how many times their vodka is distilled (rectified) and filtered: more rectification and filtering equals a smoother liquor with less bite and fewer off flavors/aromas. Now. . . read back up to the top of the paragraph. See where I write, "cheap shitty high proof alcohol?" That's the stuff they sell in stores as 190 proof grain alcohol. If you could get the filtered and rectified stuff before it's diluted down to bottle proof, like the commercial producers do, that would be even better. But since we can't get that, 100 proof vodka is a good compromise.
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#223 eje

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 09:47 AM

Everything Sam sez is good advice.

I will just add, I've never been entirely convinced by the benefits of using 100 proof vodka for liqueur making, especially since it costs almost twice as much as its 80 proof counterparts.

It may be that I just don't care for the flavor of either of the 100 proof vodkas I have available to me; but, I find using a reasonably priced 80 proof vodka gives results I find more immediately appealing.

Starting with an 80 proof liquor, you do have to be a bit more careful about water percentages, so I recommend using a 2-1 sugar syrup to sweeten. For limoncello, you don't really want it to drop much below 30% or 60 proof.

This has been covered up thread, but, using a microplane grater to remove the zest is the best way I've found so far to get as much lemon oil out of the peel in as little time as possible. I'm fairly certain that using one more than makes up for the extraction differences between vodka and high proof grain alcohol.

edit

Edited by eje, 19 May 2006 - 09:19 PM.

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#224 Shalmanese

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 10:06 AM

There's a little more to it than that.  Vodka starts out, more or less, as cheap shitty high proof alcohol.  That alcohol is then rectified (a process of diluting and selectively re-distilling the alcohol) and filtered, both with the goal of removing as many as possible of the substances in the wash that are not ethyl alcohol.  These include things like ethyl acetate, ethyl lactate, fusel oils like 1-propanol, 2-propanol, butanol, amyl alcohol and furfural, methanol and other such things.  In an unaged raw alcohol, these substances produce off-flavors, solvent-like aromas and a harsh, hot bite.  In the end, the vodka producer ends up with a fairly pure solution of ethyl alcohol and water at around 95% abv.  This is then diluted down to bottle proof with water (and tiny amounts of other things the vodka producers don't want you to know about).  This is why vodka producers like to tell you how many times their vodka is distilled (rectified) and filtered:  more rectification and filtering equals a smoother liquor with less bite and fewer off flavors/aromas.  Now. . . read back up to the top of the paragraph.  See where I write, "cheap shitty high proof alcohol?"  That's the stuff they sell in stores as 190 proof grain alcohol.  If you could get the filtered and rectified stuff before it's diluted down to bottle proof, like the commercial producers do, that would be even better.  But since we can't get that, 100 proof vodka is a good compromise.

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Hrmm... I don't recall enough physical chemistry off the top of my head but it seems to me that the brita should do much the same thing as rectification does. If cheap vodka is less rectified than expensive vodka and britaed cheap vodka tastes like expensive vodka, then its quite possible that active charcoal filtering does much the same job as rectification. Then again, maybe I'm off base. I certainly don't see how any sort of filtering can remove methanol but not ethanol and that seems to be the major contaminant in most alcohols.

Or it may be moot anyway, if your only using a tiny bit of everclear as the solvent and using vodka as the main base, then perhaps the level of contamination is negligible. The main advantage of the everclear method, IMHO, is that you are not restricted to using it purely for lemoncello, it can be used as a general purpose ingredient in food as well.
PS: I am a guy.

#225 mrbigjas

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 11:04 AM

it's not that hard to get your hands on basically pure ethanol from chemical supply places. i mean, if you get it without the denaturing agent or the vomit inducer or whatever you have to pay a liquor tax on it, but it's not like it's illegal or anything. wouldn't that really be better than everclear?

#226 eje

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 09:28 PM

it's not that hard to get your hands on basically pure ethanol from chemical supply places.  i mean, if you get it without the denaturing agent or the vomit inducer or whatever you have to pay a liquor tax on it, but it's not like it's illegal or anything.  wouldn't that really be better than everclear?

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I've always been a bit curious about this. After tasting some of my strawberry liqueur last year, one of the guys in a lab said they'd be glad to get me some 100% ethanol to expermient with. I never did follow up on that lead.

I think 100% ethanol is a controlled substance, though, on some level. I seem to recall some bureaucratic hoo-ha about a small amount of it when one of the labs I used to work for moved across campus.

edit - spelling

Edited by eje, 19 May 2006 - 09:29 PM.

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#227 jess mebane

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 07:11 PM

The Loeb Limoncello thread. Some things are timeless, I guess. Like Laarb, in a way. Happy summer!

#228 dockhl

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 02:36 PM

Time to start a batch with all the huge lemons I got this weekend :wub:

#229 LindaJ

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 01:49 PM

Summertime, and the 'cello is flowing. Based on Katie's recipe, I've made orangecello, limecello and grapefruitcello over the past year. Orange is my standard and is everyone's favorite. The lime is very like Rose's lime juice with a helluva kick. It's basically a vodka gimlet. Very tasty. I didn't like the grapefruit because it required too much simple syrup to cut the bitterness of the grapefruit, but I have a friend who loved it.

I'm down to using 80 proof vodka cause no one can seem to stand the 100 proof stuff even when it's combined with a mixer. Maybe my friends are just lightweights.

I regularly get requests to bring my "Lindacello" to parties :biggrin: I'm bottling it in 375ml bottles from the local beer/wine supply store with tasting corks which are reusable. It makes a quite pretty gift presentation with some custom labels my husband Photoshopped for me.

Next on deck, by request of my Memorial Day picnic crew, is strawberrycello since my little organic strawberry patch is producing a bumper crop. Should be ready for July 4th so I'll let you all know how it goes.

Happy 'celloing.

#230 eje

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:05 PM

[...]
I'm down to using 80 proof vodka cause no one can seem to stand the 100 proof stuff even when it's combined with a mixer. Maybe my friends are just lightweights.

I regularly get requests to bring my "Lindacello" to parties  :biggrin: I'm bottling it in 375ml bottles from the local beer/wine supply store with tasting corks which are reusable. It makes a quite pretty gift presentation with some custom labels my husband Photoshopped for me.

Next on deck, by request of my Memorial Day picnic crew, is strawberrycello since my little organic strawberry patch is producing a bumper crop. Should be ready for July 4th so I'll let you all know how it goes.
[...]

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Sounds great Linda!

I've got a Strawberry liqueur going myself. Used Pisco as the base liqueur instead of vodka. Should be sweetening it next week. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I need to investigate better bottles. I've been using re-sealable ones from a health food store; but, they are just so darn expensive. Thanks for the tip on the beer supply stores. I've got pomello-cello and limoncello that need bottling, not to mention a pomegranate liqueur from last year!

Next projects are apricots, cherries, and, in a few weeks, Nocino. I also want to try dapple dandy pluots again this summer. Sheesh, I really need to get that stuff out of the aging jars and into bottles.
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#231 KatieLoeb

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:23 PM

Summertime, and the 'cello is flowing. Based on Katie's recipe, I've made orangecello, limecello and grapefruitcello over the past year.  Orange is my standard and is everyone's favorite. The lime is very like Rose's lime juice with a helluva kick.  It's basically a vodka gimlet. Very tasty. I didn't like the grapefruit because it required too much simple syrup to cut the bitterness of the grapefruit, but I have a friend who loved it.

I'm down to using 80 proof vodka cause no one can seem to stand the 100 proof stuff even when it's combined with a mixer. Maybe my friends are just lightweights.

I regularly get requests to bring my "Lindacello" to parties  :biggrin: I'm bottling it in 375ml bottles from the local beer/wine supply store with tasting corks which are reusable. It makes a quite pretty gift presentation with some custom labels my husband Photoshopped for me.

Next on deck, by request of my Memorial Day picnic crew, is strawberrycello since my little organic strawberry patch is producing a bumper crop. Should be ready for July 4th so I'll let you all know how it goes.

Happy 'celloing.

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Lindacello! I love it! :biggrin:

There's a gelateria here in Philly (not Capogiro, Cafe Carmen) that makes what they call "Francacello" flavored gelato - Strawberry-Limoncello! YUM! Strawberry Lemonade is one of my favorite summer beverages, so I'd imagine that Strawberry-Limoncello has potential to be awesome!

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Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol


#232 dockhl

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 06:13 PM

I just made some lemon last weekend and have noticed a milky 'layer' floating on the very top. I read a reference to that upthread but never saw an explanation of what it really is........should I be concerned?

#233 Abra

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:06 PM

I have a jar of 100 proof vodka and Meyer lemon zest, microplaned, that's been extracting for about 3 weeks. How do I know when it's done? It's not turning bright, neon colors, but then, it's Meyer lemons to start with.

#234 eje

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 10:14 AM

I have a jar of 100 proof vodka and Meyer lemon zest, microplaned, that's been extracting for about 3 weeks.  How do I know when it's done?  It's not turning bright, neon colors, but then, it's Meyer lemons to start with.

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Abra,

Three weeks is plenty, especially with microplaned zest.

Home made limoncello doesn't come out the bright yellow like the commercial brands. I suspect there may be something other than Lemon zest, alcohol, sugar and water in many of those.

~Erik
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#235 LindaJ

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 12:40 PM

I tried my last batch of orangecello last night. I seem to detect a "cheap lollipop" taste underneath that comes from the sugar. I didn't overcook the simple syrup or carmelize it in any way. I didn't add a huge amount to the batch either. There was plenty alcohol to balance the sweetness, but somehow it didn't do it for me.

Has anyone tried any other sweetening agent? Cane sugar syrup like in the super fancy pants sodas?

Based on this tasting, I've decided to go back to the 100 proof vodka for my next strawberry Lindacello experiment. Maybe the additional proof will cut the sweetness? My friends will just have to suck it up and use more mixer if they can't stand the bite.

#236 Moto

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 01:17 PM

Have you tried using both 100 and 80 prooof. at the top of the thread I think it mentions 100 proof over zest for 45 days then filter and combine with 80 proof for 45 days. I think the results are great. One step i skip is adding the simple syrup. i just add it to my drinks as I mix them up. I've tried blood orange, orange and lemoncello and the blood orange wins hand down

I tried my last batch of orangecello last night. I seem to detect a "cheap lollipop" taste underneath that comes from the sugar.  I didn't overcook the simple syrup or carmelize it in any way. I didn't add a huge amount to the batch either. There was plenty alcohol to balance the sweetness, but somehow it didn't do it for me.

Has anyone tried any other sweetening agent? Cane sugar syrup like in the super fancy pants sodas?

Based on this tasting, I've decided to go back to the 100 proof vodka for my next strawberry Lindacello experiment. Maybe the additional proof will cut the sweetness? My friends will just have to suck it up and use more mixer if they can't stand the bite.

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#237 Miriam Kresh

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 02:07 PM

For those with access to an unsprayed lemon tree, try adding one fresh, washed and gently dried leaf for every lemon in the recipe. It changes the color to a darker, greenish tone and gives a pleasant edge to the taste of the limoncello.

I have made pomelo wine, but not liqueur. I think I'll make small batches of pomelo, grapefruit, and tangerine liqueurs, limoncello-style. Thanks for the inspiration!

Miriam
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#238 BTR

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 04:20 PM

Will the flavor suffer if the zest is left to steep too long? I'm going out of the country for a few months and thought it would be the perfect way to prevent myself from stopping the steeping too early, but if there are dangers in letting it steep too long as well... I'll be gone nearly three months.

#239 KatieLoeb

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 05:32 PM

Will the flavor suffer if the zest is left to steep too long?  I'm going out of the country for a few months and thought it would be the perfect way to prevent myself from stopping the steeping too early, but if there are dangers in letting it steep too long as well...  I'll be gone nearly three months.

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I don't think so, as long as there isn't any pith attached to turn it bitter. If you Microplane off the zest you can avoid getting any white pith. I suspect after all the oils have been leeched out of the zests they just sit in the alcohol waiting to be strained out. I usually consider mine "done" when the little shreds of peel have become completely white, with no trace of color left. By then the alcohol has taken on all the color.

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Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol


#240 dockhl

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 09:40 PM

I usually consider mine "done" when the little shreds of peel have become completely white, with no trace of color left.  By then the alcohol has taken on all the color.


Katie~
do you find that lemon, lime and orange all go to white ?





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