I love Italian food… real Italian food with all the fresh vegetable, olives, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. I remember going into these tiny cafes in Florence and seeing the herbs being chopped or dough being hand rolled right in front of me. It reminded me of being in my mother’s kitchen, but with slightly different ingredients of course. One night after dinner we were given complementary glasses of this beautifully vibrant yellow cordial. Every sip was like a lemon exploding in your mouth. It was cold and delicious — the perfect after dinner aperitif. I had never heard of Limoncello before, but after that I knew I wanted more.
At the time I didn’t even realize it was alcoholic… I know… how innocent. LOL. When I got back to the states I went to buy some. I searched and searched. Finally I found it at BevMo… and although I was legal to drink it in Italy, I was not yet 21 here. So, no Limoncello for me at that moment.
Fast forward a few years and I am in fact very legal. I was in West Hollywood at a flashy little place having dinner with friends when the menu comes around and there it was… Limoncello Lemonade. I was like YES PLEASE. It was tasty for sure, but the Limoncello wasn’t as good. It was too sweet and not as lemony. But, it put me on the hunt to try the stuff again. So I went to the store and bought a brand… in fact I tried several over the years. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when it dawned on me that I could actually MAKE my own Limoncello. Ding ding ding winner winner chicken dinner.
So right now I have two mason jars of delicious Limoncello in the making. It takes about two months… so this is the first of two posts. I will tell you below how I did the first part and then in June do a follow up to see how they taste.
First, you will need lots and lots of Lemons… Organic is best. Why? Because you are taking only the SKIN off these lemons, so you don’t want them sprayed with pesticides. Or if you’re lucky you can find a friend with a lemon tree in their backyard, which is what I did. At any rate, you want to wash those lemons like no tomorrow – no dirt or wax. Then using a potato peeler (I tried other peelers, but this worked the best) and take ONLY the YELLOW part of the skin. You don’t wantthat white rine/pith or it will make the Limoncello bitter.
I had roughly 20 lemons. I stood at the counter and quickly just removed all the skins. Then I placed half the lemons in a clear mason jar and half in a purple mason jar. WHY? Well I plan on making two types of Limoncello. One is the regular straight lemon and the other will be LAVENDER LIMONCELLO! I love the taste of lavender and lemons. SO I am looking forward to seeing how this comes out.
Next I added Vodka. I used the rest of the Vodka Monopolowa I’d bought for my Lavender Dream Cocktail. Many recipes ask for 100 Proof Vodka or Everclear… but I didn’t have those and I wasn’t going to run out and get them. So 80 proof would just have to do.
It’s been a week already and the limoncello is already turning this deliciously bright yellow color. By the beginning of May I will be ready to strain out the lemon peels and add my simple syrup. Depending on how sweet or how tart you’d like this use 1-2 cups simple syrup (50/50 water to sugar). I am going to try 1 cup in each jar. I am also going to add lavender to my second batch of simple syrup and a few petals to the actual alcohol a week before I strain… to get a delicious lavender taste with all that tart lemon.
I can hardly wait the two months it’s gonna take to make this, but I am sure it will be worth it to have a summer of fun desserts, teas, popsicles and lemonades punctuated with lemon and lavender flare. I am salivating at the thought. Will be back in June to let you know how it turns out!