You’re in an Italian restaurant at the end of the evening, it’s gone quiet, and if you’re lucky, the waiter has brought out the limoncello to accompany the coffees – on the house, of course.
If you haven’t had limoncello, it’s basically lemon-infused vodka with added sugar. It’s good with coffee, good as a palate cleanser, good poured on ice cream; you get the idea.
It looks so easy to make, and there are so many recipes on the internet, that we finally decided to make our own.
A typical recipe is to add the zest of 15 lemons to 2 litres of vodka or other alcohol. (The recipe I found mentioned the name of a commercial alcohol (no names, no pack drill) which, in my innocence, I had always thought was used as drain cleaner! I prefer Smirnoff!).
After the vodka and lemon zest has sat for 30 days in a cool, dark place, strain off the lemon zest. Dissolve 4 cups of sugar in 5 cups of water. Allow to boil for 5-6 minutes and reduce to a syrup. After cooling, add to the vodka and leave for a further 30 days. When that time is up, bottle the limoncello and store somewhere cold. Well, that’s the plan.
The vegetable peeler turned out to be perfect for removing the zest from the lemons, leaving the bitter white pith behind. The wonderful citrus smell released by de-zesting 10 lemons now fills the house but, having been enveloped in a fine spray of lemon during this process, I now smell like a freshly-opened toilet duck. If ’toilet duck’ isn’t common parlance in your part of the world, you may need to Google it!
Two bottles of vodka have been added, and all we have to do now is wait. And wait. And wait. It’s going to be difficult. I’ll keep you posted.
Update 1: Well, we have left the lemon zest to infuse in the vodka for 6 weeks. Tonight I dissolved 750g of caster sugar in 700ml of gently boiling water, and will leave the syrup to cool overnight.
The vodka has been strained through a paper filter; I thought that two passes might be needed, but a single pass has left a beautifully-clear, straw-coloured liquid. Without wishing to lower the tone of proceedings, it looks like the perfect urine sample (nor was I the only person to make that observation!).
The sugar syrup will be added tomorrow morning. There are exactly 3 weeks until Christmas, and I am hoping the limoncello will be ready by then.
On second thoughts, I’m not going to wait that long. It tastes too good already!
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