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Mulcahy

Making Limoncello

448 posts in this topic

I just add lemon peels and 2 peppercorns to a bottle of vodka and let it sit in the sun for months or until I can't stand it anymore. 

Oh, is it supposed to be in the sunlight? Because I've had mine in the cupboard for almost a week. Should I take it out?

Thanks, Eilen

I keep mine in a large mouthed jar on top of my refrigerator. No specific light requirements as far as I'm aware of.


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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Hello all,

I'm brandy-new to the forums, having found you in a search for limoncello information. I've got my third (this time double) batch infusing right now, but after reading Katie's recipe I ran right to my jars, opened them up and zested in some limes - might help with the depth of flavor.

I'm a little confused about recipes, however. The one I used I found online somewhere. It called for 15 lemons, and two 750 ml bottles of 100 proof vodka, but I used a bigger 1.75 ml bottle, because I thought that was equal to two. Clearly, there is a reason I don't do math in my head.... The simple syrup is 4.5 sugar and 5 c water. They seem to be turning out great tastewise, perhaps a teeny bit sweet, but I hate to reduce the syrup because I'm afraid of it not being thick enough. Suggestions? Should I cook the simple syrup and reduce it slightly?

BTW, thanks for the info on how to make it 'cloudy', I don't like it clear, and there must be a reason it's all sold in frosted bottles (which of course I cannot find for home bottling). I'm delighted with this little pearl of wisdom!

Thanks also to Steve for the info on schnapps recipes. I'm a home gardener with an abundance of herbs and especially lemon basil and there's only so much pesto a girl can eat. My mind is simply swimming with possibilities....

:wacko:


Edited by Heidi the Pilgrim (log)

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Thanks also to Steve for the info on schnapps recipes.  I'm a home gardener with an abundance of herbs and especially lemon basil and there's only so much pesto a girl can eat.  My mind is simply swimming with possibilities....

:wacko:

I would love to hear about your experience with basil schnapps. I'm hoping it would be something one could use when cooking, to give a basil flavor when the fresh stuff isn't available.

But now that you all have reminded me, I'm going to have a glass of lemoncello. Right now!


Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland

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"I would love to hear about your experience with basil schnapps. I'm hoping it would be something one could use when cooking, to give a basil flavor when the fresh stuff isn't available. "

I'm trying to imagine how I'd use it. All the schnapps I've ever had has been sweetened, whereas if you sweeten the original they call it a cordial or a liqueur. Must be different in Denmark?

The lemon basil (you have to grow it, a variety called Mrs. Burns) might be mild enough to drink, and perhaps even sweeten, but I think it might also be good as a condiment like a vinaigrette, splashed over tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I'm definitely going to try to make peppermint schnapps this summer from their recipe. The recycling people are going to think I'm a real party girl with all those empty vodka bottles in the bin...

Limoncello envy - mine's not ready and my freezer is empty...wah.


Edited by Heidi the Pilgrim (log)

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Just finished my first attempt today; I had let it sit for almost a month to make sure it was good and infused. It looks great--not super clear, but not really cloudy either. I had a little sip as it is only morning, but I'll experiment with some cocktails tonight. I'm thinking of buying a commercial brand and comparing flavors; any ideas on which brand?

And thanks for the great idea! I've got four flasks just waiting to go to friends' homes when their birthdays come around.

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I'm thinking of buying a commercial brand and comparing flavors; any ideas on which brand?

The ones I've seen most often are Villa Massa and Caravella. Don't know what's available in your neck of the woods.


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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Well, I've decanted the two batches that I started, and I have to say the color is a little too pee yellow for me. Tastes OK, not great but OK, can't figure out why it seems so 'strong' or a little bitter, I didn't use anything with pith on it.

Thinking there was something to what they say about Itialian made limoncello, that it's made from mostly green lemons, I was excited to find some underripe lemons at the grocery store. While I was supposed to be shopping for Easter I instead started another batch with my half green lemons. The difference is night and day, it's now that 'neon' green, instead of just yellow. Methinks I need to make nice with the grocery manager to get those green lemons they're holding in the back of the store till they're ripe enough to sell. We'll see about how it tastes when it's done.

I still manage to drink the pee yellow stuff.......any port in a storm..... ;)

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I got my first batch started yesterday. My hubby and I had been talking about it for ages and then my parents brought home a small bottle from their recent trip to Positano...and wouldn't share! So we're finally making our own. :)

I was a bit snap happy throughout the process (and then some!) so if anyone wants to see, it's at my blog

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.


"Vegetables aren't food. Vegetables are what food eats."

--

food.craft.life.

The Lunch Crunch - Our daily struggle to avoid boring lunches

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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.

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


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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hey, just wondering, did everyone here use organix unwaxed lemons? Or do waxed lemons work? I went to the grocery store today to get some organic lemons and they were 6$ for three!! $24 for a dozen!? yikes. Anyway...just wondering what my options are.

thanks

B

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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.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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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.

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

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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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.

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.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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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.


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

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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:

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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.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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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 (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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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.

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.

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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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