Limoncello

Cook’s Notes: This liqueur needs to steep at least two days before you bottle it. I let it steep 9 days to make the color as dark as it could be. Started Friday 11/24/06. Decanted Sunday 12/3/06. Yield: 5 c

Phase 1 — Initial bottling:

  • 8-cup jar that can seal airtight (I used a plastic coffee storage container that cannot go in the dishwasher.)
  • 9 lemons, peeled
  • 750 ml citrus vodka, 80 proof/40% alcohol (Absolut Citron)

Note: A 750 ml bottle is about 25.4 oz or 3.175 c

1. Prepare the jar:
Wash hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Wash jar in hot, soapy water. Rinse jar well with hot water, and let air dry on paper towels.

2. Initial bottling:
Combine lemon peels and vodka in the clean, airtight jar. The alcohol should cover the peels completely. Place lid on jar and seal. Store sealed jar in a dark place. Let mixture steep at room temperature, 2 days to 1 week, shaking lightly each day. The vodka will turn bright yellow as it infuses.

Phase 2 — Strain and Sweeten:
1. Strain and filter:
Place a clean quart jar in a flat glass dish; if any liquid spills while filtering, it will not be wasted. Line a mesh strainer with damp cheesecloth or muslin. Strain vodka with lemon peels slowly into clean jar. Twist the cloth to squeeze until all the liquid is through. Yield: 3 c infused vodka

2. Sweeten:
Make simple syrup: Boil together 2 c white sugar and 2 c water. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Let cool completely. Add 2 c of the simple syrup to the infused vodka; save any remaining syrup for another use.

3. Serving and storage:
Pour the Limoncello into a clean bottle with a screw top (I filled the clean vodka bottle and a 16-oz bottle with a Grolsch-type cap.).

Serving suggestion: This liqueur is very potent: A serving size is just 2 oz. Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour about 1 oz of the Limoncello over the ice. Top with Fresca or ginger ale.

Store it in the freezer. Keeps in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipe source: Modified from a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Holiday Homemade Gifts 2006 (special issue).

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