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Mulcahy

Making Limoncello

448 posts in this topic

So (for my first post, nonetheless) I've had two bottles of vodka sitting filled with microplaned lemon peels for the past 20+ days and I'm going to be starting the next steps fairly soon. I do have a question though.

Further diluting the solution with an extra 750ml of vodka?  At the point where I'm at now, having the peels saturate into the liquid, it seems like there will be quite the concentrated lemon flavor, and diluting it will just bring that down.  Is the dilution of extra vodka really neccessary, and would the limoncello just be too strong without diluting?

Welcome to eGullet and the wonderful world of limoncello, mrRed!

You're not diluting the solution with the extra vodka. You're bringing it back up to proof or strength to taste after diluting it with simple syrup. Limoncello isn't just lemon flavored vodka. It's a liqueur that incorporates a significant amount of sugar (in the form of simple syrup) for sweetness and viscosity.

So Since I have two 750ml bottles of limoncello brewing, I should just be able to combine the both, add the syrup and have a particularly strong batch? If need be, I could than ease the flavor back with more vodka / syrup solution to taste to bring it back down should I want it that way, or if the stronger flavor is something I like, than just not worry about adding further non-lemon-infused vodka/syrup solution.

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So (for my first post, nonetheless) I've had two bottles of vodka sitting filled with microplaned lemon peels for the past 20+ days and I'm going to be starting the next steps fairly soon. I do have a question though.

Further diluting the solution with an extra 750ml of vodka?  At the point where I'm at now, having the peels saturate into the liquid, it seems like there will be quite the concentrated lemon flavor, and diluting it will just bring that down.  Is the dilution of extra vodka really neccessary, and would the limoncello just be too strong without diluting?

Welcome to eGullet and the wonderful world of limoncello, mrRed!

You're not diluting the solution with the extra vodka. You're bringing it back up to proof or strength to taste after diluting it with simple syrup. Limoncello isn't just lemon flavored vodka. It's a liqueur that incorporates a significant amount of sugar (in the form of simple syrup) for sweetness and viscosity.

So Since I have two 750ml bottles of limoncello brewing, I should just be able to combine the both, add the syrup and have a particularly strong batch? If need be, I could than ease the flavor back with more vodka / syrup solution to taste to bring it back down should I want it that way, or if the stronger flavor is something I like, than just not worry about adding further non-lemon-infused vodka/syrup solution.

Mr. Red,

You will start by adding the simple syrup (diluting the mix) to add the appropriate amount of sweetness. You will then add enough vodka to bring the mix to about 60 proof. Your lemoncello may be stored in your freezer at this proof level.

If you have used 100 proof vodka, you want to use about three ounces of infused vodka or plain vodka for every two ounces of simple syrup to achieve the desired 60 proof limoncello. The specific amount of simple syrup in your finished product depends on the strength of your simple syrup and the sweetness you desire.

To prepare one (25 ounce) bottle of limoncello take 15 ounces of the infused vodka and add 10 ounces (15 X 2/3 = 10) of simple syrup. If the sweetness level is appropriate, you have finished making one bottle of 60 proof limoncello.

If you need more sweetness (and this is likely) add three additional ounces of infused vodka (or plain vodka) and two additional ounces of simple syrup. Repeat this process until you have your desired level of sweetness.

You can substitute plain vodka for the lemon infused vodka depending on the amount of lemon you want to taste in the final mix. If you use plain vodka, you may get away with using less simple syrup.

Keep track of your additions and you will have the formula for your second batch.

Note: If you used 80 proof vodka for your infusion, you will need 4 ounces of infused vodka or plain vodka for every ounce of simple syrup.

Good luck,

Tim

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Thanks Tim,

I understand the general method and plan on experimenting with various saturations of vodka to syrup before I finish the large batch, and was more concerned with ending with a product that is too lemony. Some recipes seem to add more vodka after adding a simple syrup of 1:1 sugar/water while other just add a more concentrated 2:1 sugar/water syrup and forgo adding more vodka. I suppose that the reason for my confusiong is that a large amount of the recipes I've seen add extra plain vodka after the 1:1 syrup seemingly to dilute the flavor of the lemon down to a more palatable level, rather than just ending with the proper alcohol level which will prevent against Ice crystals forming during chilling.

I guess I'll really just play around and see what the result is of various saturations, keeping in mind that the minimum alcohol content I should approach is 60 proof, and besides that I should just experiment with different ingredient blends to get to, at very least, 60 proof level.

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I finished this batch a while ago and still have a small bit leftover and there are a couple things to go into.

First off, one batch was made using standard Absolut, and the other with the 100 proof Smirinoff.

The Absolut version was a mess and I've had no more than a few sips. The rest is still sitting in my home, although I should really just dump the batch. I think its due to a few differences in the process.

The Smirinoff version is delicious, and I was very happy with how it turned out. I still have a small bit left, and need to start another batch soon.

The differences are as follows:

The Smirinoff version used the same lemons as the absolut, but they were first submerged in boiling water for 10 seconds, removed, and scrubbed with a rough cloth to remove the wax. With the Absolut version, I just scrubbed them under warm running water. Second, and I think this is the most important, is that I barely took the yellow off of the lemons with the micro-plane for the smirinoff version, while I was a little heavy handed with the grater on the absolut. This, IMO, made all the difference in the world. The absolut is quite bitter and side by side is really not good compared to the smirinoff version.

After approximately 40 days of sitting, I used an identical amount of sugar for each to give the same sweetness, but recalculated the amount of total simple syrup I needed to use in order to get my ~65 proof.

This thread was extremely helpful though, thanks to all.

The only real problem I have is that I can't find the formula I used for the amount of sugar to water, so I'm gonna have to try again next batch and do a better job of not throwing it away.

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I was told it's not illegal to ship. I called the US postal service one day and asked. I believe it was an 800 number and after much debate and flipping through books on their part, I was told that I could ship vodka from Oregon to Oklahoma. And I did. I never did get an answer on shipping durian though. :hmmm:

Well that's interesting - I first tried a Postal USA place, and they said it was "illegal". Then I got on UPS and it said they ship only beer and wine, and from "approved shippers". I could probably do Fedex, but it's about $30, for a bottle of homemade hooch, that's crazy. I thought the PO considered alcohol "flammable", and therefore not shipable, in fact there are signs inside the PO with pictures of what not to ship. Now this:

PO Guidelines

says it's not prohobited. What does this mean, 'N' means it's not allowed, or no restrictions? Now this says 'not mailable'

Domestic Mail Manual

I like your answer better, but it seems like it depends on who you talk to.

I'm a USPS Window clerk. We have been told that it's against federal law to mail drinking alcohol. The flamability issue comes into play with other alcohols which can only be sent ground (parcel post)...no Priority and airplanes. But then, it's illegal for the Postal Service to open any mail (without a warrant) that isnn't sent Media Mail

Depending on the state you're shipping from and to, you may be able to ship, not mail (UPS, Fedex) drinking alcohol. It's controlled by state laws, which are very convoluted and vary by state.

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So for what it is worth. Feminello St. Theresa Lemons are now ripe. These are on of the famed varieties from the Amalfi Coast used for Lemoncello. California Citrus Specialties is the only purveyor of this variety of lemons in the U.S that I know of.

I ordered a bushel last week for $18. With shipping, my total was $44.67. I received about 50 lemons. They will promptly begin their masceration this evening to begin the lemoncello-making process. The juice will go into granitas and sorbet, or pie...haven't decided yet.

They smell amazing and are very oily--quite different from the regular California lemons from Whole Foods that I have in the fridge.

If you would like to order some for yourself, here is California Citrus Specialties's contact information.

http://www.califcitrusspecialties.com/ilemons.html

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Morgan:

Pictures please! What do those lemons look like??


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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

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As a participating member, am I able to post pictures? If not, I can definitely send them to you to post for me. They mostly look like regular lemons, except for a knot on the opposite end of the stem.

Let me know about the pictures thing. Thanks!

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[...]

They smell amazing and are very oily--quite different from the regular California lemons from Whole Foods that I have in the fridge.

[...]

http://www.califcitrusspecialties.com/ilemons.html

Spoiled Californian here...

I really don't care for the "organic" lemons at Whole Foods. Purity is the brand, I think. They are too well scrubbed, oiled and waxed. While they do last a really long time after I buy them, the amount of oil and flavor just doesn't hold a candle to the ones I get at the Farmers' Market, Latin Markets, or from friends with trees.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

They smell amazing and are very oily--quite different from the regular California lemons from Whole Foods that I have in the fridge.

[...]

http://www.califcitrusspecialties.com/ilemons.html

Spoiled Californian here...

I really don't care for the "organic" lemons at Whole Foods. Purity is the brand, I think. They are too well scrubbed, oiled and waxed. While they do last a really long time after I buy them, the amount of oil and flavor just doesn't hold a candle to the ones I get at the Farmers' Market, Latin Markets, or from friends with trees.

Most markets sell Eureka lemons, which are tart and juicy and can take a lot of handling. Whether organic or not, I suspect the supermarket lemons are simply less fresh and less ripe than those from the farmers markets or backyard trees.

When I moved to a place with a backyard Eureka lemon tree, I discovered (1) ripe lemons are actually golden in color, not yellow; and (2) they have the most amazing citrus aroma. All I knew before were supermarket lemons.

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Reporting in some weeks after the fact with a limoncello success - using, of course, the famed Loebcello recipe. (Mostly.)

Started in early November, just before Meyer lemons were available at the grocery stores, and so contented myself with plain vanilla lemons. After a boiling water bath to de-wax and a bout under the microplane, they sat in 100-proof Stolichnaya to steep. They went just under a month before having 80-proof Stoli and simple syrup added. I did not age it before sweetening and bottling, which likely explains why we found the flavor harsh next to two varieties of commercial limoncello (Limoncé and Gioia Luisa). To get the flavor comparable to those without the bite, I had to dilute it down to 54.9 proof. Next time (and that next batch is already in-progress), we'll see about aging more properly.

We went straight from mixing to bottling, at which point I realized the lemon juice (for cloudiness) should have been added before straining. The recipients didn't mind (all reported it was fantastic, as did our in-house taste test post-Christmas), but I would have liked it to be more 'pure' in appearance.

Current experiments all in steeping phase: 1/3 batch of Meyer limoncello (seems about ready to strain after 2 weeks); 1 full batch of normal limoncello; and 2/3 batch of clementines - which, strangely enough, yield an identically-colored potion to the Meyers (which have been in perhaps 10 days longer).

Thanks to all, particularly KatieLoeb, for suggestions and results. This will be a household and gift staple from here on out.


David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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I wanted to post these pictures of our Limoncello-making evening a week or two ago. This is the second batch I have made. The first was with Meyer Lemons. They were from the same producer in California--California Citrus Specialties. This batch is made from the Italian lemons that, as far as I know are only grown by California Citrus Specialties in the U.S. I ended up with a couple of liters of the most delicious lemon juice that I've ever had. It has a really clean sour flavor and finish. I never realized how most of the commercial lemons that we get are not only sour, but also quite bitter. This variety of lemons are known as Feminello St. Teresa.

Before I go on, here are some pictures:

gallery_54220_5623_955167.jpg

gallery_54220_5623_430925.jpg

gallery_54220_5623_488236.jpg

gallery_54220_5623_543862.jpg

gallery_54220_5623_609016.jpg

Since we had an abundance of lemons, my wife and I ended up making a double batch of limoncello. We started off with the zest from 26 lemons that went into a big glass jug, along with two bottles of 100 proof Smirnoff Vodka. Since the 100 proof will be cut with a couple of bottles of 80 proof vodka, I decided to take the zest of another dozen lemons and mascerate it in one of the 80 proof bottles. I didn't want to dilute the lemon flavor with un-infused vodka--and well, I had plenty of lemons to spare...

So the plan in a month or so is to cut the two bottles of 100 proof Smirnoff with one bottle of infused 80 proof vodka and one more un-infused bottle, if necessary. I still haven't quite decided how I will get the final product to 60-ish proof...but I've got a month to think about it. Any input would, as always, be greatly appreciated.

I will be extremely careful with the sugar addition to this batch. The last batch ended up a little sweeter than I had originally intended--live and learn. The good news is that in a month or so, I will hopefully have as close of a representation as possible to the Italian Limoncello from the Amalfi Coast.

Please give these lemons a try. Again, with shipping for twenty pounds of the most delicious lemons that I've ever had, was $44. We've made the lemon ice cream, granita, and buttermilk lemon sherbert from Dave Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop book (a Christmas present from my wife), that were all amazing. Now all we're wishing was that it was summer. I guess it is nature's cruel trick to make ripe all of this great summer citrus in the dead of winter...

One more thing...California Citrus Specialties also is one of the only producers of Bergamots in the U.S. Has anyone ever tasted these things straight? My only reference to the flavor is Earl Gray tea. I'm really tempted to order some of those and see what happens--bergamotcello???

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Thanks to all, particularly KatieLoeb, for suggestions and results.  This will be a household and gift staple from here on out.

David:

My pleasure to have helped! More converts, YAY!! My work here is done... :biggrin:

Patience is a virtue with producing Limoncello, although the microplaning helps move along the infusion process, it really does mellow a bit with time in the bottle.

It's an honor being the annointed Limoncello Queen of eGullet, but the thought of so many happy smiling faces enjoying the "fruits" of a recipe I scribbled on a cocktail napkin so long ago warms my heart. I'll think of all of you as I raise my glass of Limoncello, as I know you do for me. Cent' Anni! :wub:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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

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Thanks to all, particularly KatieLoeb, for suggestions and results.  This will be a household and gift staple from here on out.

Patience is a virtue with producing Limoncello, although the microplaning helps move along the infusion process, it really does mellow a bit with time in the bottle.

Katie,

I had some bitterness the last time I made orangecello. That was after a three week infusion of microplaned orange peels.

Could you explain the bitterness and bottle aging process?

Thanks,

Tim

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Impatience won out. I've got a regular lemon tree that gives huge lemons but only a few are ripe now and a Meyer that is giving a mother load this year. I'll start a full Meyer once they've hung for a bit.

I ended up doing a 8 huge regular lemons to 6 smaller but large meyers and a lime from my neighbor. Just to see what I end up with.

They all got microplaned and set to steep on Thursday....

................So I wait.................


Edited by Susie Q (log)

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Thanks to all, particularly KatieLoeb, for suggestions and results.  This will be a household and gift staple from here on out.

Patience is a virtue with producing Limoncello, although the microplaning helps move along the infusion process, it really does mellow a bit with time in the bottle.

Katie,

I had some bitterness the last time I made orangecello. That was after a three week infusion of microplaned orange peels.

Could you explain the bitterness and bottle aging process?

Thanks,

Tim

Tim:

I think sometimes it's just about the small amount of pith that gets in with the colored part of the peels. Some fruits are more bitter than others "under the skin", so to speak. It might be pretty on the outside, but bitter under the surface. Kind of like some people we know, yes? :biggrin:

A slight bit of bottle aging seems to benefit all "cellos". The bit of rest in the bottle seems to allow the balance of sweet and sour to come to its tipping point. At least in my experience.

My next foray is to make a batch of fresh Lime Cordial, to replace that awful chemical flavored Rose's Lime behind my bar. I'll report back on my progress. If the Lime cordial is a success, I'll be making a batch of Lemon Cordial as well, for what I can only imagine will be some very refreshing Lemon Gimlets!


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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

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Katie, Thank you for your wonderful recipe.

Mulcahy, Thank you for starting this thread.

Much thanks to the other posters for their insights.

I finished bottling my limoncello today. I wish I had a camera it looks so pretty. I ended up with 1 1/3 batch of liqueur as I used some extra lemons because I had 1/3 of an extra bottle of Smirnoff 100 I wanted to use up.

Mine isn't crystal clear. It clouded up when I strained it. Wasn't expecting that. Earlier, I made a cold mixed simple syrup and made sure it was clear; hoping to make a clear cello.

Clear it's not, but it sure is yummy.


Edited by Susie Q (log)

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Mine isn't crystal clear.  It clouded up when I strained it. Wasn't expecting that.  Earlier, I made a cold mixed simple syrup and made sure it was clear; hoping to make a clear cello. 

Clear it's not, but it sure is yummy.

I wouldn't consider that a flaw, per se. I use a bit of juice for cloudiness in 'cellos. I was asked by one Italian recipient of a bottle last Christmas (whose family has made it many times before) "Love it! How'd you keep it from looking like a 'sample'?"


David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

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Hi everyone.

I have been reading this thread for years. Seriously. And naturally, it was only after moving away from California that I got serious about making a batch of Limoncello. Moving to Texas was the right decision for me, but finding lemons out here proved to be problematic.

However I found some great organic lemons at one of the really great specialty markets out here and decided to finally get off my butt and make up a batch.

Reading through this entire thread, I took a little bit of every suggestion, along with consulting some friends that lived in Italy for a while and came up with my own super secret recipe "la fruita del Diabolo" as I call it.

Its absolutely delicious and I cant wait till June to hand the bottles out to my friends.

In Texas, there is one company that makes a form of Limoncello. Its not bad, but it kicks pretty hard, which tells me that they use grain alcohol and dont let it sit too long. I compared both theirs and mine and without a doubt, mine is better.

And I owe it all to all of you! Thank you for keeping this thread alive and for the amazing resource its been for my little experiment. I could not have done it as well without you guys!

Cheers!

-Rob

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I, too, have been making limoncello following ideas from these posts for a couple of years. Luckily I can easily get organic citrus from the Santa Monica farmers' market.

Based on my experience, particularly this year, I'm concluding that timing (within the growing season and any time spent in storage) is key, particularly when using Meyer lemons.

My first experience a couple of years ago was late in the season, the results were OK, but nothing special. This year I started early in the season (January); the lemons were so fresh they perfumed the house. The results were shockingly amazing.

I made multiple batches throughout the season, every couple of weeks, using fruit from the same farmer. I noticed the lemon smell was never as strong -- either because it was later in the season, or they had been sitting in storage. The resulting limoncello was good, but never quite as amazing as the first batch.

Also, this year I added about 1 cup of Meyer lemon juice after the steeping period. I think it adds a little more complexity to the taste. I needed to filter the finished limoncello again a couple weeks after the initial filtering.

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Anybody else making a batch right now? I've got one sittin for 8 days now and I'm soooooo excited! I've never had limoncello before but I've been reading this thread ever since I saw Danny Devito drunk on the View extolling the virtues of limoncello =D I've read in this thread somewhere that it benefits from a few days in the freezer. I've got microplaned peels of 12 lemons and one lime in 750 ml of 100 proof smirnoff and they've been extracting for 8 days. If I want the finished product by this weekend when should I finish it and put it in the freezer?

BTW, thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread and thanks especially to the Exalted Queen of Limoncello =P

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Anybody else making a batch right now? 

I just finished a batch. I usually don't let mine steep for as long as some of the others on this board. Typically one week. Once the steeping is done I filter out the peels and combine with the sugar syrup. Then the bottle heads straight to the freezer until time to serve.

Hope yours turns out great. :smile:

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Yup! It's been two weeks since I started this latest batch.

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I'm making a batch now that uses one 750 gr bottle of everclear and one of vodka. But from what I've read here the amount of lemos to liquid is a bit low, so I'm going to throw some more peel in, and will also splurge and buy a lime (they're expensive here!). What a source this thread is, thanks to everyone for sharing.


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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Have I mentioned lately how pleased I am that there are batches of limoncello going on several continents and I feel somehow inextricably linked to that strange and wonderful circumstance?? How cool is that??

I am awed and humbled. So happy to know there's an unbroken chain of homemade limoncello all over the world that I had some teeny tiny part in making come to pass. Let's all raise a glass to that.

Here's to the power of the internet, eGullet, shared interest and just sharing.

Cheers! :smile:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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

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