Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winter: time for Limoncello

Winter, when citrus are in season and at the best of their flavor, is my favorite time for making limoncello at home. Because I can preserve its refreshing flavor and enjoy it all year round. Limoncello is a traditional, lemon-flavored, southern-Italian dessert liqueur that is often served chilled as “digestivo” after a meal. It is mainly produced in the region around the Gulf of Naples the Amalfi coast and the Sorrentine peninsule, but also in Sicily, Sardinia and the Maltese island of Gozo. There is not doubt that limoncello is gaining popularity around the world. For many Italians, like my brother in-law Gabrielle, a family meal is uncompleted without a sip of limoncello. In many Italian restaurants a small “per la casa” (on the house) glass of limoncello is offered at the end of a meal. I have already seen in restaurant menus a limoncello version of tiramisu, panettone, zabaione and other desserts. Even Danny DeVito has created his own brand of limoncello (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxC-3B576M). Limoncello is made with the peel of freshly harvested lemons (preferably organic), alcohol, spring water and sugar. It’s a fantastic dessert drink and is exceptionally easy and inexpensive to make. The only difficult part of making limoncello is to be patient as it takes at least 6 weeks to produce a good one. This is my version with Vodka. Limoncello - 7 large organic lemons (organic Meyer lemons makes a great choice ) - 2 cups water - 1/2 cups 2 tablespoon sugar - 2 cups of vodka Wash the lemons thoroughly. Take the skins off the lemon with a peeler being careful not to get any of the white pith as it will add bitterness to the limoncello.

Put the peels into a large bottle with the vodka and seal the lid tightly. Put the bottle in a cool, dry place for two weeks – shaking the content once a day.
Two weeks later, make a syrup -bringing the water and the sugar to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Then cool the syrup to room temperature. Strain the lemon peels out of the vodka and then mix the vodka with the cooled syrup. Pour the mixture into bottles, seal them tightly and store them in a cool dry place. Keep the limoncello for one month before serve it. Enjoy!