Tag Archives: 100 Proof Vodka

Homemade Limoncello with Pistachio Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

There’s reason for celebration because my batch of homemade limoncello is ready, just in time for David’s birthday! I started the limoncello on August 16th and it was ready last Saturday (November 3). The recipe is from Joanne Weir and takes 80 days to cure. Made from lemon peels, 2 bottles of 100-proof vodka and some simple syrup, this limoncello recipe is easy to make, yielding crisp and bright flavors. My Mom has been making it for years so it was fun to carry on the tradition with my first batch here. An Italian classic, limoncello is served ice cold and sipped after dinner. I made pistachio chocolate chip shortbread cookies for something decadent and sweet. They offer a buttery, rich texture and pair well with the lemony, smooth alcohol. The shortbread cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart, with an added 1/3 cup each of the nuts and 60% cacao chocolate chips, both chopped. Be sure to roll the cookie sides in sugar (used turbinado for texture).

Speaking of sugar, you may remember from the Day 40 post that I used organic sugar in the simple syrup, which changed the color from the usual light golden (as shown here with Mom’s May vintage) to a tea color. Thankfully the color lightened considerably, but it is still darker than normal. I’m happy to report that the flavor is uncompromised.

The recipe yields 12 cups of lemony goodness. To make the bottle filing easier, ladle the limoncello into a measuring cup with a spout, place a medium funnel in the bottle and pour slowly, leaving an inch of space at the top. I found the long neck (small and large) limoncello bottles with red-capped corks at World Market; they also sell bottles with a clamp stopper, shown here.  Pier1 has some vintage-looking bottles with corks, and Amazon sells the clamp stopper bottles, plus more.
Store the bottled limoncello in the freezer.

Aside from waiting, the only labor involved is peeling all the lemons on Day 1. To recap from my earlier posts, here’s the abbreviated 80-day limoncello process (click on links for blog posts and recipe):
· Day 1: Add peels from 15 lemons to a 1-gallon jar, add 100-proof vodka
· Day 40: Add simple syrup and more 100-proof vodka
· Day 80: Strain mixture and bottle. Store in freezer and serve ice cold in small glasses

You can buy pre-made tags for your limoncello bottles, or quickly make your own:
o    Use beige heavy card stock, cut strips then pieces of the desired size
o    Cut the edges with wavy lines instead of straight 
o    Hole punch the top, use a highlighter to color the outer edge
o    Make horizontal lines inside the color and add a line around the inside edge
o    Finish it off with some interesting yarn (alpaca/wool yarn shown here), ribbon or colored raffia and if desired, make it long enough to tie a bow at the end knot

Done! Bottle tags are ready for use.

I believe a few friends have made a batch of limoncello after I posted and would love to hear how theirs turned out – friends, are you listening? Always love it when you share. How about you, did you start a batch, or have you made some before? Not just for the holidays, limoncello is wonderful on Valentine’s Day, for birthdays (including yours!) or just because.  Do make some, and please share.

Cheers, and Happy Birthday to my man!

Eat well and share the love!

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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

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

5 cups water

Directions:
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.

Homemade Limoncello For The Holidays

I know it’s only mid-August but now is the time to start planning for some Holiday sipping and gifts with Homemade Limoncello. Yes, that’s right, I mentioned the word Holiday!  This recipe is from one of my favorite chefs, Joanne Weir – it was her cooking class in Tucson that introduced me to the finer points of food, and started me on this path. Her limoncello recipe was featured in Fine Cooking magazine (March, 1997) and is still a winner today.  Limoncello comes to us from the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy and is served ice cold as an after dinner drink or aperitif.  The color comes from lemon peels and the flavor is pure lemon steeped in smooth alcohol.  It’s a special treat to be offered a sip of someone’s homemade limoncello after a meal.  Mom makes this recipe often and thankfully she shares her bounty with us, complete with handwritten labels for a personal touch.  The recipe is super simple to make with only 4 ingredients: Lemon peel, good quality 100-proof vodka, sugar and water (simple syrup).  But you will need to wait for 80 days to let the flavors steep, that’s why you need to plan – or at least start thinking about it – now.

You’ll also need a 4-quart/gallon glass container with a lid for this homemade limoncello recipe. Joanne Weir’s recipe is listed below, but here is a 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 juice for later use: after peeling, juice the lemons, transfer juice to ice cube tray, freeze and store cubes in freezer bag or container)

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)

I will share my progress with you around the 40-day mark, and remind you that there still may be time to make a batch for the Holidays!   

For a vacation-inspiring post about limoncello, read this Rick Steves’ Europe article; the author’s closing paragraph sums up limoncello with finesse: “Take a sip of limoncello. Smell the aroma of the lemon and see the vibrant color in your glass. Close your eyes and you will be transported back to Italy. Hear the rustling of the leaves of the lemon trees as the breeze comes in from the Bay of Naples. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Take another taste and feel the cold liqueur cool your taste buds. Remember how it was such a welcoming finale to your Italian meal. As you drink in the memories and drink in the liqueur, you will find yourself dreaming of your next sojourn to Italy.”

Eat well and share the love!

Homemade Limoncello, by Joanne Weir
Limoncello must steep for 80 days
Yields 3 quarts

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

5 cups water

Directions:
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.

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A note of remembrance: Yesterday would have been Julia’s Child’s 100th birthday, a pioneer in the culinary field. She left her mark on the world with her groundbreaking talents, passion for enjoying and understanding food, by introducing (and demystifying) French cooking techniques to Americans, and with her cookbooks and TV shows. Now that’s a woman I would have loved to share a dinner table with! Here is a funny, endearing re-mix music video that PBS put together in her honor: