06 March 2013
Meyer lemon limoncello
You guys know we have a meyer lemon tree in the backyard. Our next-door neighbors also have a standard lemon tree that overhangs our driveway, and they've urged us repeatedly to take as many as we like. So what I'm saying is: we have some lemons around.
So last week I grabbed ten lemons and set out to make some limoncello.
Limoncello is really easy to make. It mostly takes patience, which admittedly is not necessarily the easiest thing when you want to drink delightful lemon liqueur NOW. I find that it helps to bury your limoncello-in-process behind your other bottles of liqueur, or to tuck it into the highest cabinet in the house. That way it's easier to forget it's there and let it age appropriately.
Meyer lemon limoncello
10 unwaxed meyer lemons
1 quart 80 proof vodka
Zest your lemons, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. You don't need some fancy zester for this. I used my vegetable peeler, which is at least 25 years old, and it worked very well.
Put all your zest in a clean quart canning jar or other reasonable jar of your choice. You should have enough to fill the jar about halfway full, depending on the size of your lemons. Pour your vodka over your lemon zest, up to the top of the jar. Lid the jar and put it in a dark cabinet.
For the next week or two, steep your limoncello. I let mine steep for about ten days, but you can go longer or shorter if you prefer. Shake the jar every time you think about it--every few days will be fine.
When you're done steeping, strain out your peels. I find a canning funnel to be very helpful at this stage of the proceedings. Quart jar, canning funnel, strainer. You may need to strain your limoncello a second time, using a coffee filter, paper towel, or fine nylon sieve, to get out the tiniest bits of sediment.
Sweeten your limoncello to taste with simple syrup. I'd recommend starting with about 1/3 cup of syrup for a quart of liqueur, especially since meyer lemons are already so sweet. The act of adding sugar is what takes this from a schnapps (i.e. a basic infused vodka) to a liqueur, incidentally.
Now lid your jar, put it in the cupboard, and try to forget about it for at least a month or so. Give it some time to age. The more time you give it, the smoother and more delightful your limoncello will be.
When you're ready, drink your limoncello. It works well as a single aperitif or as the main ingredient in a really serious lemon drop. Obviously, limoncello is a drink made for summer, so try not to drink it all before it gets warm. Sweet refreshing lemon under the hot August sun? yes, please.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Heat your sugar and water together on the stovetop, swirling the pan from time to time. When the sugar has dissolved completely, your syrup is done. Put it in a jar and let it cool completely (unlidded) before using.
You can keep simple syrup in the refrigerator for a good month or so. It's especially nice to have on hand when you want a classic sour, such as the Fitzgerald.
Last year's batch of limoncello was 100% standard lemons. This batch is 100% meyer. We have, of course, drunk the entire older batch already. So I may start a second standard lemon batch, and maybe even a mixed batch, so we can do a tasting and comparison in a few months. And maybe a couple more batches made with all the other citrus I can get my hands on...
How are you using the end-of-season citrus? Anyone else making liqueurs?