February 6, 2010

Limoncello Update

I got my first taste of homemade Limoncello today after 2 agonizing weeks. Of course, it's easier to avoid sampling the product during the initial soaking step when it's an undrinkable 190 proof. Over the last 13 days, I've been diligently stirring up the slumbering lemon peels every day and watching the liquor take on a decidedly rich, dark yellow hue.

The lemon peels didn't lose as much color as the lime peels I previously used, but they were weirdly crunchy when I removed them from the jar - I guess they were dehydrated by the alcohol. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

First, I need to let you in on the prep work I did prior to cracking open jar o' lemons. An hour or two before I wanted to strain the soaking lemon peels, I prepared simple syrup by dissolving 6 cups of sugar into 5 1/2 cups of boiling hot water (according to the recipe I posted last time). Looking at the final volume of simple syrup I ended up with, I thought there was no way I would use all of it, and I was right. I don't have a hummingbird feeder - what am I going to do with all this sugar water?

Once the syrup was at room temperature, I started prepping the liquor. I used 2 steps to process the liquor and get it ready to mix with the syrup. First, I used a colander to remove all of the big chunks of lemon peel - straining the liquid into a large pot. I took note of the level of the liquor in the pot, so I would know how much simple syrup to add later.

Unfortunately, I don't have a really nice giant jar to age this stuff in, so I walked a few blocks to the local Food Whole and picked up one of those refillable blue water bottles (1 Gal). I used a funnel and a coffee filters to remove all of the tiny particles and sediment that was released by the peels. This can take a while and a few filters because they get clogged. Be patient.

I ended up with 3 or 4 inches of straight lemony spirit in the bottom of the blue jug. I used the same large pan to measure out my simple syrup by pouring it in up to the mark I made earlier (I made a notch on a plastic swizzle stick, if you must know). I used my funnel to add the syrup to the same container as the lemon liquor and that was that, ese. Limoncello.

It looks classy in that big ol' jug, right? I'll let it sit for a few more weeks before I put it in smaller bottles and stash them in the freezer, but I couldn't resist a small taste. I also wanted to show off the milky yellow color that resulted from adding the simple syrup. As you might expect, it is very sweet, but the intense lemon flavor makes it taste like really excellent fresh lemonade. Because I mixed roughly equal parts of 95% alcohol and simple syrup, the final limoncello is probably around 45-50% alcohol. Based on the flavor, you'd never know. I added a few ice cubes and it improved as it got colder, as well as taking on an even more pale, milky color.

If I had to find a way to improve the recipe for next time, I would add the simple syrup "to taste," rather than blindly following the 1:1 mixture called for by the recipe. Don't misunderstand - it is still very good and I'm proud of it, but I wonder what it would have been like with, say, half the simple syrup. Will the sweetness of this batch taper off in the coming weeks? Will the lemon flavor develop somehow? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.


Blogger kenikeia said...

This sounds amazing! And as the sweetness sounds really good to me I'm putting in a request for a small bottle reserved just for me!!

February 07, 2010  
Blogger Doug said...

> what am I going to do with all this sugar water?

Mojitos and rock candy!

February 09, 2010  

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