Today was one of those days where I totally deserved this entire bottle of Limoncello. I was in the garden most of the day, a big chunk of time spent in that very bed in the above photo. It was over-run, weedy and totally misshapen from clunky Spring growth. On hands and knees, I dug up big hostas, trained climbing hydrangeas, and laid dark mulch around soon-to-be pink sedums. It was a lot of work for a holiday weekend.
Making my organic Limoncello is not so hard! It takes a while but each step is easy, almost effortless. I started the above batch about six weeks ago, and it’s now ready just in time for a little thimble full each evening post-dinner. (Who am I kidding? A thimble full would do me no good! I need at least a solid, thick ounce to end my evening, especially those evenings where I need to breath a sigh of relief after a day of digging in the earth.)
- 1 bottle (750 ml) of organic vodka, or any type (if organic doesn’t do it for you)
- 8 organic lemons, washed
- 3 cups organic cane sugar
- 3 cups water
- 2 – 750 ml clean bottles with caps
In a large, clean bottle (with a wide opening and a cover), pour the entire bottle of vodka. Very carefully, peel the yellow thin layer of zest off of each lemon, making sure to avoid taking up any of the white pith. (I use a simple potato peeler for this.) Place the zest strips in the same bottle that holds the vodka. Cover and hide it away in your cupboard for at least four solid weeks. The longer you stow it away, the better the resulting liquor. Every couple of days, I shake the bottle up a bit.
When the four weeks are up, strain the vodka-zest mixture. Discard the zest, and evenly distribute the vodka into two 750 ml bottles (using the funnel). Over medium heat, gently boil the sugar with the water to make a simple syrup. This should take about 10 minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture off the stove and let it cool a short while.
Using the funnel, distribute the simple syrup evenly into the bottles with the vodka. The bottles won’t necessarily be filled to the top, but that’s okay. You want to be able to shake the concoction. Gently shake both bottles and put the bottles back in your cupboard for two weeks. (You really don’t have to do this extra step. The syrupy liquid is perfect right now. But I let it sit a little bit longer to get even more gorgeous and sweet.)
Place the bottles in the freezer and pour a solid ounce every now and again when you need to relax or finish up a tasty meal. This Limoncello will not be bright yellow, like the sort you see on the liquor store shelves. My version looks like thick olive oil (the organic sugar makes it darker) and tastes a little like heaven. To make a great cocktail, just cut a short pour with a few ounces of seltzer, ice and a slice of lemon.
Friends always love when I pull the bottle out of the freezer. I love how instantly relaxed I feel after a couple sips – especially after too many hours in a messy garden – a garden that’s now gorgeous and ready for Summer – kinda like my Limoncello!
Note: This isn’t a boozy type of Limoncello. It’s fairly mellow and doesn’t give you that alcohol feeling in the back of your throat, likely because I opted to use Vodka instead of grain alcohol. A friend (or two) may like it with more bite, but my husband thinks this is the way Limoncello should be – mellow, easy, simple. I’ll test it out with some Italian friends this Summer.