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Mulcahy

Making Limoncello

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Mel:

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

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

limoncello3.jpg

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

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

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

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

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DO NOT use everclear

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

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

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

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DO NOT use everclear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DO NOT use everclear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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annabelle:

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

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

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

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

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

just wonderin'

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Hello,

New member here, with a limoncello question. I've made it successfully for years, never keeping notes but just grabbing a recipe off the internet, with vodka or everclear, and it's always been fine.

A friend sent me a lovely box of Meyer lemons and I was thrilled. Surely, this will be the best batch yet! I resolved to be patient with steeping. The liquid (I used vodka this time) never really took on a true deep yellow color. After 6-8 weeks, I added syrup and aged for another month.

What I got was "NumberTwoPencilCello." Not bitter, or horrible, but definitely woody-tasting. It was drinkable in iced tea, but not something I'd serve straight or give to friends.

Any suggestions on where I went wrong? Lemons are yellow, number two pencils are yellow ... I got nothin.

Thanks!

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

Our Italian family friends make their liquors with close to pure grain alcohol (I'm not sure what the product name is, but it's something that's available over there); of course it has to be heavily diluted, but the final product is very drinkable. I think it's something like 2:1:1 (alcohol:sugar:water), but could be remembering wrong. Since the lemon peels don't absorb much or any of the alcohol (compared to the green walnuts used to make nocino), it has to be fairly diluted to be drinkable.

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yes - i custom add sugar and water to get the alcohol level and sweetness i desire. i also believe the higher the alcohol % during the soaking of the zest, the better (or faster) it will extract the oils. makes sense to me!

it just seems a lot of people here are dismissing the use of grain... i was curious if they had actually tried it!

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Hello,

New member here, with a limoncello question. I've made it successfully for years, never keeping notes but just grabbing a recipe off the internet, with vodka or everclear, and it's always been fine.

A friend sent me a lovely box of Meyer lemons and I was thrilled. Surely, this will be the best batch yet! I resolved to be patient with steeping. The liquid (I used vodka this time) never really took on a true deep yellow color. After 6-8 weeks, I added syrup and aged for another month.

What I got was "NumberTwoPencilCello." Not bitter, or horrible, but definitely woody-tasting. It was drinkable in iced tea, but not something I'd serve straight or give to friends.

Any suggestions on where I went wrong? Lemons are yellow, number two pencils are yellow ... I got nothin.

Thanks!

unfortunately that woodiness is just the aroma of meyer lemons. you just need to find ways of contrasting it. orange peels might do the trick or use in an iced tea like hibiscus.

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I'm currently steeping the zest of 18 lemons in 100ml of Smirnoff 100 proof. I put the wife on the job of microplaning lemons and walked back in to see about one pint of zest and five lemons down (she was zesting far into the pith, unfortunately). It's been about a week and I'll let everyone know how things go with all that pith infusing.

My question: Has anyone kept a simple syrup blended liqueur at room temperature for any period of time? I'd like to keep my limoncello out on a counter, if shelf-life will allow.

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My question: Has anyone kept a simple syrup blended liqueur at room temperature for any period of time? I'd like to keep my limoncello out on a counter, if shelf-life will allow.

I think that's how most people store it, in some cases, for quite some time.

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I think that depends what your end proof level is, as well as the brix level/sugar content. I'm no scientist. I've kept some out on a shelf and it was fine - for a while. But eventually it turned cloudy and a little scary looking. And like anything that isn't filled to the top and well sealed after some has been removed, I suspect some mild oxidation might have occurred.

If you have the space, keep it in the freezer. I've never had any change in color, flavor or texture that way.

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Quick question, folks. A friend of mine gave me about a dozen of these perfect lemons from his trees (I have no idea of the cultivar). They're about a pound each - for reference, the knife in this photo is 12" long from tip to pommel. The rinds have very thick yellow portions and finer amounts of white, and the fruit itself is crazy juicy (it will become lemon pies for the most part) - but I don't want to waste that lovely peel! I love Limoncello but it's around $50 a bottle here, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The question is this: how many of these would you consider to be equivalent to a dozen "normal" lemons? I'm trying to figure out how many of them to microplane into my vodka - I don't want to overdo it.

IMG_0009.jpg

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Quick question, folks. A friend of mine gave me about a dozen of these perfect lemons from his trees (I have no idea of the cultivar). They're about a pound each - for reference, the knife in this photo is 12" long from tip to pommel. The rinds have very thick yellow portions and finer amounts of white, and the fruit itself is crazy juicy (it will become lemon pies for the most part) - but I don't want to waste that lovely peel! I love Limoncello but it's around $50 a bottle here, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

The question is this: how many of these would you consider to be equivalent to a dozen "normal" lemons? I'm trying to figure out how many of them to microplane into my vodka - I don't want to overdo it.

Perhaps 6 rather than 12?

But, my advice to you would be not to worry about "overdoing it." After you've extracted the oils, you add your alcohol, syrup, maybe even some water, etc., until it gets to the strength you want it.

It's been my experience that it's impossible to "overdo" adding too much zest.

On the other hand, having too little means you have to start all over and steep some more.

Another thing to consider is the strength of the lemon oils/flavor in your particular lemons. Meyers Lemons, for example, are quite large. But their peels do not seem, to me anyway, to be as flavorful as regular lemons.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

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Thanks! I'll start with 6 of them, then, and see how much peel that gets me. I also want to candy the peels of at least 2 or 3 of them (because a nibble of candied lemon peel is a guilty pleasure, and these are so perfect that it would be almost a shame not to!)

They definitely aren't Meyers - they're too flavourful for that, and Meyers are only rarely grown down here (probably for the very reason that they lack flavour). I'd place bets on them being a Spanish type, perhaps Villafranca, which are also quite large. The flavour is comparable to Sorrento lemons, which are rarely grown here (but which I buy whenever I see them.) I'll give it a shot with 6 of them and see what happens - my friend tells me that as long as at least one lemon pie comes his way per dozen lemons, he's happy to continue picking them and giving them to me. I've also got some limes the size of my fist, one of which will be zested and added as per Katie's instructions.

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