I recently returned from a conference in Tucson, where there were trees gloriously heavy with brilliant lemons and oranges. It set me thinking about the Ilalian liqueur Limoncello, which at its best is redolent of pure fresh lemons. Unfortunately, most of the versions that make it to America taste a bit artificial. It’s quite common for Italians to make it at home, and I started looking for a recipe. As often happens, most of the easily located recipes online were copied from one source, and used only the peel and not the juice. After looking further, I ended up doing it this way:
Obtain ten fresh juicy organic lemons. With a very sharp paring knife, peel the zest off in strips, carefully avoiding the white layer underneath. Probably it would also work to grate the zest off, but I haven’t tried that. Put the zest in a large jar (I used a half-gallon jar) and add the strained juice of five of the lemons,
2 1/2 cups good vodka, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir it around to start the sugar dissolving, but it won’t finish dissolving for days, so don’t worry. Let steep for one week, stirring daily. Taste it for sweetness, and adda little more sugar if needed. Let it sit two or three more days. Then strain carefully, pour into decorative bottles, and store in the refrigerator. Since it’s never boiled and contains fresh juice, it won’t keep as well as the commercial stuff. Serve well chilled in tiny glasses.
Addendum:shortly after I posted this, I received a comment which led me to a fascinating site, limoncelloquest.com. I recommend that anyone with an interest in the subject check out this quirky and fascinating site.