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Mulcahy

Making Limoncello

448 posts in this topic

Just strained off this batch of limoncello, which had been infusing for 3 weeks:

gallery_20641_6711_89456.jpg

Crazy yellow! Some friends and I made a ridiculous amount of apricot jam a few weeks ago, and I decided we might as well use the zest of all of the lemons that we were juicing. Added bonus! Last time I made KatieLoeb's delicious recipe, but this time I went with grain alcohol, after loving a version I tasted at a friend's house. 1 bottle grain alcohol, zest of 12 lemons, 1.5 bottles water with 1.3 cups sugar.

I know it's supposed to age for a few more weeks, but man it looks so good now.

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I've noticed a few other people mentioning that they'd been "following this thread for years." I, too, have been a long time reader, first time limoncello-maker. Thanks for being such an entertaining read so far!

I am halfway through making my first batch of limoncello (hopefully to give away for Christmas) and I am feeling a bit confused. I am hoping that someone can help me plan my next move.

I started with the recipe that KatieLoeb posted way back on page 1 (thank you for that, KatieLoeb!). Three weeks ago, I used my microplane to zest one dozen lemons + one lime into a 750 ml bottle of vodka. I've been checking my mason jars every few days, and they have a nice yellow colour to them, and smell like lemony-vodka.

It is the next step that confuses me.

I live in Canada, and was unable to find 100 proof vodka. I used a bottle of Wyborowa (40% -- which makes it 80 proof?) . I know that I still need to add the simple syrup--but I'm not sure if I need to add more (unsteeped) vodka (as Katie's recipe suggests). My fear is that the 80 proof vodka won't have gotten enough flavour out of the zest, and that the addition of extra vodka will dilute the lemon flavour too much.

I've used the ratio's Tim provided last year (thank you, Tim), and figured out that if I want to bring my 80 proof steeped vodka closer to 60 proof limoncello, I'd just add 187 ml of simple syrup to my 750 of vodka.

I know a lot of this will be trial and error, and that I'll just have to keep tasting as I go until I find a result that I like-- but I am hoping that someone might be able to steer me in the right direction.

My questions:

If anyone has made limoncello with 80 proof vodka before, would you mind sharing your recipe? Did you add extra (unsteeped) 80 proof vodka at the end? Did you use a simple syrup that was 1:1 or 2:1 sugar:water?

In the LA Times article, the recipe suggests that you should "let the flavours marry" for a week before using. Is this step actually very important?

---

I remember sipping limoncello in Italy about five years ago, and I absolutely loved it. I remember a liqueur that was sweet and smooth, with a strong taste of bright, sour lemon. I'm hoping to produce something similar.

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I've only made it with 100 proof, but after steeping for a couple weeks, I add another bottle of vodka, then the syrup. I think I used a 1:1 syrup. Maybe you want to do less water in the syrup since you're using 80 proof. It won't taste bad, whatever you do.

I have a different question. I followed the recipe as well and it tastes fine, but I noticed after being in the freezer for a couple weeks, I have a bit of a waxy sludge at the top of the bottles. I did blanch my lemons and scrub them to try to get rid of any wax on the lemons - could this be residual wax? Anything else it could be? I think I'm going to try and strain it out, but I'm curious because last time I made it, I didn't get this.

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I've gotten that too and just figured that some of the essential oils from the lemon peel came out of solution when the proof dropped upon sweetening.


 

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Maggie,

I will suggest that you NOT add any vodka for two reasons. The 80 proof vodka does not pick up as much lemon flavor as the 100 proof vodka. More importantly, why would you want to dilute that wonderful lemon flavor?

Using a higher ratio of sugar in your simple syrup is very easy. For you to get that 60 proof limoncello, you will want to add 8 ounces of simple syrup.

It is very easy to dissolve 8 ounces of sugar in 8 ounce of water. I usually run the sugar for 5 seconds in a food processor to make instantly dissolving sugar. I also heat the water slowly while stirring.

You might want to begin with about 6 ounces of the sugar syrup to allow you to adjust the sweetness.

You may also find that you want to add more simple syrup to the limoncello. In this case, for every ounce of syrup, you will add 1/3 ounce of 80 proof vodka.

Good luck,

Tim

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I've gotten that too and just figured that some of the essential oils from the lemon peel came out of solution when the proof dropped upon sweetening.

Ah, thats definitely a possibility. I think I'll adopt your outlook and just tell people that if they ask. :)

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Thanks so much Tim! That was exactly the clear sort of answer I was hoping for. I'm excited to give that a try this weekend.

Now, if only I can find a place to buy pretty bottles in Ottawa....

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Now, if only I can find a place to buy pretty bottles in Ottawa....

Have you tried the Glebe Emporium?

Also, since you're in Ontario, I should point out that I've had good luck making limoncello with Kittling Ridge's "Prince Igor Extreme" vodka. It's an unfortunate name - aimed at the frat boy set, I assume - but it seems to be the most reasonably priced vodka that's above 40% abv that the LCBO carries (it's 45% abv). For your next batch!


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I have a different question. I followed the recipe as well and it tastes fine, but I noticed after being in the freezer for a couple weeks, I have a bit of a waxy sludge at the top of the bottles. I did blanch my lemons and scrub them to try to get rid of any wax on the lemons - could this be residual wax? Anything else it could be? I think I'm going to try and strain it out, but I'm curious because last time I made it, I didn't get this.

you either have the precipitation of pectin which can float to the top or you have the separation of terpenes.

the terpenes come from part of your lemons oxidizing. many commercial products are "terpene-less". liquids are chilled and the terpenes come out of solution and then you just decant them to separate. the terpene-less result should be rounder in flavor with less of the angular character of the terpenes. i think that products like cointreau go through terpene separation to make them shelf stable.

joseph merory's book "food flavorings" details terpene removal in the context of commercial liqueurs if anyone is really curious, but it seems as simple as chill and decant or ladle off.

if you are concerned about diluting your alcohol with a simple syrup just skip the syrup and stir in the sugar patiently with a wooden spoon so you don't crack the glass. alcohol is a better solvent than people give it credit for. 100 proof can be over kill. many botanical concentrates for vermouth production use only 20% alcohol solvents.

if you just want to drink your lemoncello straight, triple-sec's sugar content is a good one to shoot for. 250 grams of sugar in 850 ml of 80 proof infused spirits will yield an approximate liter of gorgeous 60-something proof liqueur.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Thanks to this inspirational thread, and a large impulse buy of Meyer and regular lemons, I decided to make limoncello. Because I wasn't sure if I would like it, I only sprang for 80-proof Smirnoff. I used a combination of regular and Meyer lemons, about 4:1. Because the alcohol was already at a good proof, after the first extraction step, I added granulated sugar instead of simple syrup. I was a little worried about solubility, but 1.5 cups of sugar dissolved in my 2-qt jar with no problem-- just a little mixing. Here is the aged limoncello, ready for filtering. It's a bit cloudy, because I had just inverted it:

The brew:

4532669949_9e7f273677.jpg

Here it is during filtering:

4532670069_394ded1dcf.jpg

Mmm, "golden hour" lighting is so perfect for photography. You can see that the extraction is not perfect-- some yellow still remains in the peels. One possibility to improve extraction is to use the higher-proof alcohol; another possibility is to decant the first extraction, set it aside, add fresh 80-proof vodka to the peels, let that extract, then combine everything at the end to let the flavors marry. That sounds like work.

Never having tried limoncello before, I wasn't sure if I would like it, or if it would just make me think of Lemon Pledge. Well, we had some (served at freezer temperature) as a digestif after a garlic-loaded dinner party and it was splendid. Not too sweet, it went down so easily, I could see that it could be very dangerous. It was absolutely delicious-- as soon as I finish filtering this batch, I will be on the lookout for more organic lemons. This time, maybe I will try 100-proof vodka-- or maybe I won't mess with success.

Thanks egullet (and especially Katie!)

Jen

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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:


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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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!


Patty

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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 (log)

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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.

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


 

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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...

tracey


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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.

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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?

I think microplaned zest dehydrates pretty quick even at room temperature, so it's worth a shot.


 

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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.


Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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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%.

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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

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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

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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!

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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.


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, 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.

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