Day 40: Homemade Limoncello for the Holidays

Can you believe we are already at the 40-day mark of the Homemade Limoncello making process?  Today I added some simple syrup (see note below) and more vodka, and then it will sit for another 40 days.  My post for Day 1 was on August 16th, and the lemon peels and 100-proof vodka have since been happily mingling inside a gallon jar. I was excited about the Day 1 post not only because I was able to share a recipe that my Mom has fostered for many years, but the chef who created the recipe, Joanne Weir, read AND commented on my post! Needless to say, I was thrilled that one of my favorite chefs took the time to acknowledge my blog.  In case you missed Day 1, limoncello is enjoyed after dinner and served ice cold – it has a strong, bright lemon flavor steeped in smooth vodka.  It’s an honor to be offered a glass of someone’s homemade limoncello – a sign that you are a welcome guest who will be invited back again.

Note: You probably noticed that my limoncello has an amber color; that’s from the type of sugar I used, which is organic and has a blonde color to it.  The flavor isn’t affected, but it doesn’t produce the golden, clear color you are looking for in limoncello; I would therefore recommend using a white sugar for the proper color.  Every day is a learning experience in the kitchen!  The perfectionist in me is reeling from this silly mistake, but I must move on.

I have again included Joanne Weir’s recipe below, but here is another quick break-down of the 80-day process:

Day 1: August 16, 2012
Add lemon peels and vodka to a covered jar, let sit for 40 days in a cool, dark place

Save the lemon juice for later use; after peeling, cut the lemons in half and juice, pour juice into ice cube tray, freeze and store cubes in freezer bag or container.
Yields about 12 ice cubes; one regular ice cube = 2 tablespoons

Need some ideas for using fresh lemon juice ice cubes? Add to water pitcher for instant flavor, add to sauces, or defrost and use when baking or making vinaigrettes.

Day 40: September 24, 2012
Add simple syrup and more vodka to jar, let sit again for 40 days in a cool, dark place

Day 80: November 3, 2012
Strain, pour into clean bottles and keep in freezer (yields 3 quarts/12 cups)

Good News: If you haven’t started your Limoncello for the Holidays, it’s not too late.

In November, I’ll share the final product with you, when our limoncello will be ready to drink – just in time for David’s birthday, too! Are you planning to give some limoncello as gifts? Stay tuned – I’ll also share some resources for decorative bottles.

Eat well and share the love!

Homemade Limoncello, by Joanne Weir (print recipe)
Limoncello must steep for 80 days
Yields 3 quarts

15 thick-skinned lemons
2 750-ml bottles 100-proof vodka
4 cups sugar

5 cups water

Day 1: Wash the lemons well with a vegetable brush and hot water; pat dry. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemon in long, wide strips. Scrape away any of the bitter white pith from the lemon peel with a paring knife.

Combine the lemon peels and one of the bottles of vodka in a large (at least 4 quarts) glass jar with a lid. Cover the jar and store it at room temperature in a dark cabinet or cupboard for 40 days. As the vodka sits, it will slowly take on the bright yellow color of the lemon zest.

Day 40: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and let the syrup boil for 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool, then add it to the limoncello mixture, along with the remaining bottle of vodka. Cover the jar and return it to the cupboard for another 40 days.

Day 80: Strain the limoncello into bottles and discard the lemon zest.

A nice surprise………..Last week I discovered an aspen tree sapling has rooted itself in my flower pot! I have always wanted my own aspen grove (I love the sound when the leaves rustle in the breeze) but never planted any in our yard. Perhaps now we can.

5 responses to “Day 40: Homemade Limoncello for the Holidays

  1. I’m inspired! Your date chart is a really smart way to get us motivated to get a batch started asap. Love your addition of Rick Steves’ vision how to enjoy a glass of limoncello. I’m going for the Dec.31 completion date 🙂

  2. My limoncello is on day 17. I can hardly wait!

  3. Yay Limoncello!! Your Start/Finish chart made me realize I better get my act together and make my next batch so it’s ready before the end of the year. Just think, you could be starting a trend with the amber-looking Limoncello. Nobody else has it and you discovered it! Could be a feature in your cookbook that sets you apart from the rest of the pack 😉

    • LOL, I like your perspective on my foible! It’s much better than the “Grrr” sounds of exasperation in my head. I seriously considered starting another batch and delaying the post but decided to forge ahead, and share my mistake.
      After filling in the start/finish chart I was surprised that there are only 3 weeks left to start a batch for this year, and the last date would have it ready by New Year’s Eve.

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