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Making Limoncello


Mulcahy
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Here is my predicament:

I love limoncello, but the yellow sugary syrupy stuff sold at most restaurants in NYC (notable exceptions: Babbo and Girasole) and at liquor stores is totally undrinkable.

Where can I find the good stuff? (I live in NYC, but any recommendation would be appreciated).

Let me also add that I have been too lazy to make my own, but am starting to think that is my only option.

Please, please help me.

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Sorry -- neither of these answers is going to help you much. The two best I've ever had were 1) a bottle an acquaintance brought back from Sicily, and 2) a bottle I made myself.

Making it is really easy, even if you're lazy. It only takes a little time to prep the ingredients. The hardest part is the patience; it takes several weeks to a month for the flavors to really develop. Plus, if you make it, you can control the sweetness.

My strongest advice if you make it: Don't use cheap booze.

amanda

Googlista

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Sorry, my answer may not be much help either, but it's a darn good excuse for a trip, if ever one were needed. For the best limoncello, you must go to the Amalfi Coast. In particular to I Sapori di Positano where Sandra Russo makes it in small batches from the immense and incredibly fragrant lemons that grown in that delightful, sun-blessed spot, in her own back garden in fact. "The secret," she told me, "is to drink limoncello when it is very fresh, so that it maintains its beautiful colour and the perfume of our fresh lemons of Positano."

I Sapori di Positano

via dei Mulini, 6

84017 Positano

Marc

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Since I seem to be the proclaimed "Limoncello Queen of eGullet" I'll give you my super easy recipe.

The limoncello is fairly simple. Take the peels of one dozen lemons + 1 lime (that's the secret!) either removed with a vegetable peeler, or microplaned off. I think the infusion goes much faster with the microplaned little shreds of peel as there's more surface area exposed to the alcohol.

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). The higher alcohol level seems to get better extraction from the peels. Place the jar in a safe place (on top of my refrigerator works for me!) for at least two weeks, giving it an occasional shake and sniff to check on it. You'll be able to see the vodka turning bright yellow as it pulls the flavorful oils from the peels. When the peels no longer look colorful and the vodka doesn't seem to be gaining any more visible color or scent, it's done. Filter through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a large bottle or jar and press down to remove all the vodka and oils that you can from the peels. Add a 1:1 simple syrup (I usually start with 2 cups water to two cups sugar, boiled lightly until completely dissolved and syrupy and cooled off) and then thin further with approximately another 750 ml bottle of your favorite regular vodka. If it needs to be cut down or sweetened further, just use filtered or bottled water and more simple syrup. It's really a matter of taste as to how sweet and/or strong you like it. You can also make "Orangecello" the same way. It's quite tasty too!

You could, if you wanted to, use Everclear grain alcohol for the extraction, however, I find that it makes for a much harsher tasting end result. I find that the 100 proof vodka and then flavoring/thinning to taste with simple syrup, more regular decent neutral vodka (last batch I used Denaka from Denmark) and a little filtered or bottled water seems to get the best and most palatable results.

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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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Limoncello

The best way is to make your own. Very simple with maybe an hour of actual work and produces great results. The recipe I use is almost identical to the one I linked to above. I also use Smirnoff 100 proof Vodka.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Thanks Katie, I love it too. Lemons on the Amalfi coast are large, thick skins and far from perfectly formed. They smell wonderful and the oil is almost dripping. I've figured without those it wouldn't be the same, but I'm going to try yours. Lime huh, I found drinking shots, every day after meals, that even my skin glistened. Summer is on it's way.

Edited by mantee (log)

Carman

Carman's Country Kitchen

11th and Wharton

Philadelphia, PA

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I've made limoncello for several years from the Batali recipe on the FoodTV website. Its very near the above mentioned recipes and is better than any I can buy here.

The "add the peel of ONE lime" secret was given to me by the Italian restaurateur in Germany who gave me his recipe. It's definitely the best "homemade" I've had that didn't have the benefit of the Italian lemons.

I'd love to make a batch myself with the Amalfi lemons, but where would one procure those here?

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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I just called Michael of Anstasio's Produce, he said he gets the really large lemons from Calif. for the other restaurants that make their own. He's going to try to get them from Italy. He does have them from Spain in July and Aug. I'm going to do the Calif. ones, and I'll let you know when he has the others.

Carman

Carman's Country Kitchen

11th and Wharton

Philadelphia, PA

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I found this article from google about availability of amalfi lemons in the US... not really too much good news though:

http://www.deliciousitaly.com/lemons3.htm

�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Limoncello

The best way is to make your own. Very simple with maybe an hour of actual work and produces great results. The recipe I use is almost identical to the one I linked to above. I also use Smirnoff 100 proof Vodka.

Elie

Is there an easy way to zest all those lemons?

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Limoncello

The best way is to make your own. Very simple with maybe an hour of actual work and produces great results. The recipe I use is almost identical to the one I linked to above. I also use Smirnoff 100 proof Vodka.

Elie

Is there an easy way to zest all those lemons?

The Microplane. Takes about 10 minutes. And you only get zest - no pith.

Mantee - Thanks! Just let me know and I'll be off and running to try and make some truly flavorful Limoncello.

I like a wee dram of Limoncello in my Iced Tea in the summertime. Quite refreshing! :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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Limoncello

The best way is to make your own. Very simple with maybe an hour of actual work and produces great results. The recipe I use is almost identical to the one I linked to above. I also use Smirnoff 100 proof Vodka.

Elie

Is there an easy way to zest all those lemons?

Much as I love my microplane, I love this serrated peeler even more for getting large amounts of zest off citrus fruit:

Messermeister serrated peeler

You can get just the zest (not pith) off in large strips in under a minute per lemon. It's the greatest. (You can also peel tomatoes without blanching them first, if you're so inclined.)

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I don't think we can get 100 proof vodka in Canada, so....would it be worthwhile making Limoncello with regular vodka only?

Well, if you really want to make limoncello, you could start by making your own vodka.

But first you'd have to plant some potatoes.... :unsure:

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amanda

Googlista

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I don't think we can get 100 proof vodka in Canada, so....would it be worthwhile making Limoncello with regular vodka only?

Yes, definitely. The first couple of times I made it I used 80 proof, and it turned out fine. You may want to let the vodka and lemon zest steep longer before adding the simple syrup and additional vodka -- I let mine go for almost a month -- because the lower proof doesn't extract the flavor as well as the higher proof.

The upside is that I didn't have to add water to dilute the strength when I started with 80 proof.

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What a great discussion--I had limoncello in Capri about 5 yrs ago, dreamt of it ever since. Definitely going to try your recipe this summer Katie!

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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What a great discussion--I had limoncello in Capri about 5 yrs ago, dreamt of it ever since. Definitely going to try your recipe this summer Katie!

Sara:

There's a little bit left from my last batch in my freezer. If we BYO together sometime I'll definitely bring it along.

Melograno next week?? :biggrin:

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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The thing about limoncello from the Amalfi Coast is the lemons that grow there, yes, but also due to the producers using under- or unripened lemons. Katie's addition of lime peel likely attempts to approximate this quality. The best I've had was purchased out of a couple of producers' garages outside of Ravello and Minori along the Amalfi Coast.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Recipe below from Joy of Mixology, or try Villa Massa brand--it's not too sweet at all.

Limoncello

Family: Infusions

Yield: approximately 60 ounces

Adapted from a recipe by George Germon and Johanne Kileen, Al Forno, Providence, Rhode Island, where Mardee and I were introduced to the drink in the 1990s. Limoncello is a traditional Sicilian after-dinner drink, and should be served neat, straight from the freezer.

12 medium lemons

1 liter grain alcohol

2 cups water

2 cups granulated sugar

Carefully pare the zest from the lemons, taking care not to take any of the white pith along with the zest. Place the zest into a large glass container with a close-fitting lid, reserving the pulp and juice for another use. Pour in the grain alcohol and close the container. Leave the mixture to mellow for one week in a dark place.

Combine the sugar and the water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature, add it to the lemon zest mixture, close the container again and allow the lemoncello to mellow for one more week.

Strain the mixture through a double layer of dampened cheesecloth into bottles, and place the bottles in the freezer.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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Thanks everyone.  I have decided to use Katie's recipe to make my own (probably this weekend).  I will post here to let you know how it turns out.

From start to finish it's usually at least a two to three week process. Anywhere from ten days to three weeks for the peel soaking part and then at least a few days to "rest" in the bottle after you've diluted/sweetened/upped the alcohol to taste. Patience pays off. After it's truly finished I usually funnel it into empty and well washed tall skinny schnapps or vinegar bottles with wooden and cork stoppers. Then I lay a couple down in the freezer for at least 6 hours until it's really cold and viscous. Then drink from small cordial glasses or mixed into iced tea or cocktails. YUMMY!

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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