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Mulcahy

Making Limoncello

448 posts in this topic

I've got a couple questions here on this topic:

First, how can you really tell what proof your resultant liqueur is? Infusing anything, even just zest, lowers the ABV of whatever you're steeping. The bar I work at infuses a lemongrass vodka (not a very juicy ingredient), and if you put it into the freezer it will freeze, at least to a slushy point, which won't happen with regular vodka. So how can you measure what level of alcohol is being absorbed into the peel in exchange for the aromatic oils?

I'm also curious about milk-infused limoncellos. I've come across several recipes, but they seem to be only country home versions. Does anyone a bit of history about a milk/cream limoncello variation?

Thanks!


Small Hand Foods

classic ingredients for pre-prohibition era cocktails

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I've got a couple questions here on this topic:

First, how can you really tell what proof your resultant liqueur is?

Thanks!

Feste,

You have to calculate the algebraic percentage of alcohol in the finished product.

You begin with 25.4 ounces of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka. When you finish, measure the total volume. Divide 25.4 by the total volume and multiply by 100 to get the final proof.

Tim

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[...]

First, how can you really tell what proof your resultant liqueur is? Infusing anything, even just zest, lowers the ABV of whatever you're steeping. The bar I work at infuses a lemongrass vodka (not a very juicy ingredient), and if you put it into the freezer it will freeze, at least to a slushy point, which won't happen with regular vodka. So how can you measure what level of alcohol is being absorbed into the peel in exchange for the aromatic oils?

I'm also curious about milk-infused limoncellos. I've come across several recipes, but they seem to be only country home versions. Does anyone a bit of history about a milk/cream limoncello variation?

It's best guess, for the most part, unless you've got a hydrometer.

I microplane the peel and after infusing squeeze it out as much as possible in a cheese cloth before further filtering. As far as I can tell, there's not much liquid left in the peel. It's not as possible to squeeze the peel if you just use a vegetable peeler to separate it from the rest of the orange.

There are a couple commercial cream 'cellos on the market, but I have to admit my general aversion to dairy hasn't given me much interest in sampling them. Not to mention my aversion to commercial 'cellos.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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You have to calculate the algebraic percentage of alcohol in the finished product. 

You begin with 25.4 ounces of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka.  When you finish, measure the total volume.  Divide 25.4 by the total volume and multiply by 100 to get the final proof.

Tim

Thanks, Tim.

But are you assuming that the alcohol and water of the spirit get absorbed into the solid matter at an identical rate? Because it's been my experience that the solids (fruit, herbs, etc.) absorb more alcohol than water. If you taste a piece of fruit that's been macerating in booze for some time, it hardly tastes like fruit, just fibrous booze. And the resultant liquid is much more flavorful and has a lower proof than the spirit used, hence the ability to freeze. Without a hydrometer, how can you tell what the proof is?


Small Hand Foods

classic ingredients for pre-prohibition era cocktails

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You have to calculate the algebraic percentage of alcohol in the finished product. 

You begin with 25.4 ounces of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka.  When you finish, measure the total volume.  Divide 25.4 by the total volume and multiply by 100 to get the final proof.

Tim

Thanks, Tim.

But are you assuming that the alcohol and water of the spirit get absorbed into the solid matter at an identical rate? Because it's been my experience that the solids (fruit, herbs, etc.) absorb more alcohol than water. If you taste a piece of fruit that's been macerating in booze for some time, it hardly tastes like fruit, just fibrous booze. And the resultant liquid is much more flavorful and has a lower proof than the spirit used, hence the ability to freeze. Without a hydrometer, how can you tell what the proof is?

if your making an infusion of only lemon peels or a culinary herb or spice you may have to assume their impact is very minimal. (but some peels like seville oranges are like 80% water if you don't dehydrate them)

you could try playing with an proof hydrometer. i think i paid 7 dollars for mine. measure you spirit before you embellish it. and then measure it afterwards (but definitely without sugar!). this may tell you something about peels or spices but as soon as you introduce even low levels of sugar it will totally throw off your proof hydrometer.

but if you are working with sugar you would still have an option... you could distill off the water, alcohol, and essential oils leaving the sugar behind. dilute with distilled water to your original volume then you could more accurately measure the alcohol (its still effected by the lemon oil by probably negligibly) and you could measure the sugar of whats left in your still to also learn something...

my understanding is this procedure is what government used to have to do to analyze new products coming to market but you only get fairly accurate estimates and labor is huge. now they use weird tricks with light like ultrasonic spectroscopy which can parse the materials definitely.

i started using a final gravity hydrometer at work for some wine experiments. it has a very narrow scale that will tell you if you have fermented to dryness or maybe how intense the extract is in a beer (i think i described that correctly). well the idea was to prove that some wines like viogniers that many people thought were sweet were actually fermented to dryness as proved by the hydrometer (and their 14.7% alcohol levels!). what was being perceived as sweetness was being low acid and high in extract.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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You have to calculate the algebraic percentage of alcohol in the finished product. 

You begin with 25.4 ounces of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka.  When you finish, measure the total volume.  Divide 25.4 by the total volume and multiply by 100 to get the final proof.

Tim

Thanks, Tim.

But are you assuming that the alcohol and water of the spirit get absorbed into the solid matter at an identical rate? Because it's been my experience that the solids (fruit, herbs, etc.) absorb more alcohol than water. If you taste a piece of fruit that's been macerating in booze for some time, it hardly tastes like fruit, just fibrous booze. And the resultant liquid is much more flavorful and has a lower proof than the spirit used, hence the ability to freeze. Without a hydrometer, how can you tell what the proof is?

Hi,

I never assumed that precision was important to this equation. If you have to be that precise, a $10 hydrometer is the obvious solution, and probably faster than a caculator.

Tim

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You have to calculate the algebraic percentage of alcohol in the finished product. 

You begin with 25.4 ounces of 100 proof (50% ABV) vodka.  When you finish, measure the total volume.  Divide 25.4 by the total volume and multiply by 100 to get the final proof.

Tim

Thanks, Tim.

But are you assuming that the alcohol and water of the spirit get absorbed into the solid matter at an identical rate? Because it's been my experience that the solids (fruit, herbs, etc.) absorb more alcohol than water. If you taste a piece of fruit that's been macerating in booze for some time, it hardly tastes like fruit, just fibrous booze. And the resultant liquid is much more flavorful and has a lower proof than the spirit used, hence the ability to freeze. Without a hydrometer, how can you tell what the proof is?

Hi,

I never assumed that precision was important to this equation. If you have to be that precise, a $10 hydrometer is the obvious solution, and probably faster than a caculator.

Tim

A Hydrometer won't tell you the alcohol of the resulting liquid only the specific gravity of the finished product. Alcohol has a lower specific gravity than water, sugar a higher specific gravity.

You can come up with an approximate amount of alcohol by comparing the volume of alcohol you started with and the volume of the finished product. I.e if you started out with a liter of 100 proof vodka and you end up with 1.25 liters of finished product it would be about 80 proof.

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Hi,

I should have been more clear.

For precision, use the hydrometer before adding the sugar. Follow with the algebraic method using the weight/ABV of the infused vodka and the weight of the finished limoncello.

Tim

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Hi, not sure if this has been covered in the preceding 12 pages or not (I only read up to page 5...) but has anyone tried adding any of the lemon juice to the limoncello for extra tang? I'm really keen to make some, as soon as one of my friends goes overseas so they can get me duty free booze, seeing as how I don't relish buying $100+ of vodka to make a batch.


"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

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There's no inexpensive vodka in all of Australia?? The vodka needn't be the top shelf stuff since the lemon flavor will basically take it over. 100 proof Smirnoff will do just fine. How big a batch were you planning to make that you think you'll be spending 100's of dollars?

As for adding the lemon juice, I'd be afraid it would make the limoncello far less shelf stable (if at all shelf stable) and the end result too cloudy. YMMV, but I've never tried to add juice to the original recipe I was given. If I wanted more tartness I'd add some tartaric acid powder available at the homebrew/winemaking shop before I'd add something I'd be afraid would cause it to spoil.


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

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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Performing a bit of thread necromancy...

I recently finished up my first batch. I just used plain old grocery store lemons/lime, microplaned, soaked in .5 bottle of 100 proof smirnoff for 1 week, added the rest of the bottle, dumped in warm 1 cup suger and water syrup and into the freezer. I think it turned out great - although I've never had the real deal. I found out my buddy had a bottle from Italy that he received as a gift. He brought it over for a comparison.

1. His had more of an herbal/green flavor. You could really tell it was a different lemon. Also, his was a bit sweeter. I think the proof was a tad lower too - it seemed a tad smoother.

2. Mine was much brighter lemon flavor. Had a bit more bite - which I don't mind. 1 friend liked mine better. Everyone else just thought they both were different and had their place.

Thanks so much for the inspiration. I'm definitely going to be making more.

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Performing a bit of thread necromancy...

I recently finished up my first batch.  I just used plain old grocery store lemons/lime, microplaned, soaked in .5 bottle of 100 proof smirnoff for 1 week, added the rest of the bottle, dumped in warm 1 cup suger and water syrup and into the freezer.  I think it turned out great - although I've never had the real deal.  I found out my buddy had a bottle from Italy that he received as a gift.  He brought it over for a comparison. 

1.  His had more of an herbal/green flavor.  You could really tell it was a different lemon.  Also, his was a bit sweeter.  I think the proof was a tad lower too - it seemed a tad smoother.

2.  Mine was much brighter lemon flavor.  Had a bit more bite - which I don't mind.  1 friend liked mine better.  Everyone else just thought they both were different and had their place.

Thanks so much for the inspiration.  I'm definitely going to be making more.

If your taste-test didn't exhaust the bottle, try it again in about two months. Homemade liqueurs and such benefit greatly from some resting to help integrate all the flavors.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Thanks for the tip Andy. I have about 1/3 of it left. I'll let it sit. A responsible individual would start the next batch... :)

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I never get tired of bumping this thread, if only to see what you erudite grainheads have been up to. Amazingness this year? Just a little opener I like to call The Killer:

Performing a bit of thread necromancy

:wub:

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Hi, not sure if this has been covered in the preceding 12 pages or not (I only read up to page 5...) but has anyone tried adding any of the lemon juice to the limoncello for extra tang?

Sure. Only a couple tablespoons, filtered, because it is for color and not flavor. I find the slight cloudiness reminiscent of the commercial frosted glass bottles, as well as avoiding the 'sample' appearance.

When you mix in significantly more juice, you're making something more akin to a ratafia, which has different properties - and, as I understand it, significantly more perishable.


David aka "DCP"

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

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I never get tired of bumping this thread, if only to see what you erudite grainheads have been up to.  Amazingness this year?

Definitely. This year's experiments (or variations, I should say) included lime zest (18-24 limes, depending on size) and grapefruit zest (4 grapefruits) - both otherwise according to the 'Loebcello' recipe. The 'limecello' has received rave reviews - more so than the limoncello, oddly - but the grapefruit is not appreciably different from lemon to about half those who have tasted it.

David aka "DCP"

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

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I recently bought a house that has a lemon tree (yay!) and I have tons of lemons, so I am going to make a batch of limoncello this week. I have never actually tried any myself, so will be guessing whether or not the finished product turns out right or not. I have read thru a good portion of this thread but not all of it, and just wanted to clarify something. This does not have to be refrigerated correct? I saw a post saying it did not, and understand that it is put in the freezer before serving just so that its nice and ice cold. I plan on giving away a few bottles and wanted to be sure as I found another recipe (on a different site, and which I will not be using) that says to store it in the refrigerator. Glad to hear about the grapefruit option also, might try that too since I also have a pink grapefruit tree and I cant even give enough of it away.

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Hi,

Definitely no refrigeration required. Good Luck.

Tim

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Place the peels into an airtight container (I use a large screwtopped jar) and cover with one bottle of 100 proof vodka (I use 100 proof Smirnoff).

just to be stupid, is this a one litre bottle, or a 750?

i think i am going to mix in some meyer lemons.

thanks

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That would be one standard issue 750ml bottle. At 100 proof.


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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Yes - sometimes it's hard to convince folks you aren't some sort of really bizarre fetishist with a giant <ahem> sample being kept on the counter. :raz:


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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Yes - sometimes it's hard to convince folks you aren't some sort of really bizarre fetishist with a giant <ahem> sample being kept on the counter. :raz:

I don't try to convince them. I just open the jar and take a large sniff and smile.

Hah, just thinking about how funny it would be to keep it in the bathroom...

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I had a litre bottle of smiroff, so into the left over i put a little grated ginger, and some leaves from my Thai Lime tree. I plan on putting a little honey in it when it is ready.

it has turned a kind of sick green. It looks like the problem pee.

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