Thursday, April 30

Toinette's Limoncello

I met Toinette, (Antoinette) through our friend Larry whom Toinette was dating.  Not only is she a great cook, but she’s fun to be around and a good conversationalist.  We used to meet for lunch once or twice a month. And oh, did I mention smart?  
She was a college professor at a local college here in central Ohio but took position in another state, so with our busy lives we don't get to see each other like we used too.  
I do have a few of Toinette’s recipes, like her Shrimp Salsa, (a fav) but I never got a chance to ask her for her Limoncello recipe.  Toinette makes beautiful little bottles of this delicious adult citrus beverage to give out as gifts during the Christmas holidays.

Recently because the weather is finally improving and summer is right around the corner, I started thinking of a drink we could enjoy on hot summer days after a hard sweaty day working in the garden and around our little farm.
Toinette’s Limoncello came to mind so I looked up a few recipes. I plan on mixing my Limoncello with lemonade and serve over ice. Maybe I’ll add a few frozen strawberries or raspberries!  Doesn't that just sound like a cool refreshing summer drink? This will also be nice to serve to dinner guests

Limoncello takes a couple months to make from start to finish, so if you want it ready in time for hot summer days you may want to start the process in the spring.  If you too want to give beautiful little bottles of this as Holiday gifts, start at least 2 months ahead or in early October.

Beautiful light yellow Limoncello

The History of Limoncello
Limoncello is the second most popular liqueur in Italy
Its origins, like so many Italian inventions, are folkloric and a matter of debate, its history lost between myth and legend.
Ownership of the original Limoncello recipe is claimed by people from Sorrento, Amalfi and Capri, three towns within a few miles of each other. The drink was widely consumed in that area since the beginning of 1900, but was not trademarked until 1988. But Limoncello’s roots go back many centuries earlier with some historians believing fishermen drank it to steel themselves against medieval invasions.  There are even claims that monks created it in their monasteries or that it was invented by wealthy Amalfi-area families.

How Limoncello is Made
“Limoncello is the delicious result of an abundance of lemons and a dose of patience.”
The zest of the lemon is the main ingredient because it's rich in essential oils and has a distinct aroma. Lemons with a thick skin are the best to make Limoncello.
The best Limoncello comes from the big, ripe lemons of the Mediterranean, but any variety of lemons may be used.  Grain alcohol and sugar are the other main ingredients, but Vodka is the most commonly used for homemade Limoncello.

Serving Limoncello
Limoncello can be served before or after dinner, with the dessert course or as aperitif or digestive drink.  But this potent liqueur is most appropriately served chilled in slender cordial glasses. One sips Limoncello slowly, not all at one time as a shot. This liqueur is delicious when paired with Italian desserts, such as Tiramisu, a Pear Tarte, or almost any chocolate concoction. Limoncello may also be served drizzled over ice cream or fruit salads.
In Italy, during the hot summer days, Limoncello is a very popular grand finale to any meal, usually just after coffee.
In the United States, Limoncello is also increasingly used in cocktails (which is my goal), usually paired with vodka, tonic water or Champagne. It can be served at room temperature or chilled and great for an Italian Dinner Party.

Homemade Limoncello

2 bottle (750 ml) vodka
15 lemons
6 cups water
5 -1/3 cups sugar

Bowl full of lemons ready to zest

How to Make:
Wash and then peel the lemons using a potato peeler.
Be careful not to get the white part of the lemon on the peel. The white part is bitter and will not give you the best results.

Use a potato peeler to zest the lemons 

Place the vodka into a lidded glass container and then add the lemon peels.

Add the zest to the jar with vodka

Zested lemons and a bird's eye view of the peels and vodka in the jar

Stir the peels and vodka, put the lid on the jar and set in a cool dark area to infuse for about 21 days.

Stir the vodka and lemon zest

After the vodka has infused for 21 days, use a colander to strain the vodka into a bowl to remove the lemon peels.  Set the infused vodka aside. 
Or if you wish, let the lemon zest stay a little while longer as I did. 

Limoncello after weeks in the pantry

Place the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat to a low simmer. Whisk until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.

Heat the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan

Add the sugar syrup to the infused vodka and whisk to combine.

Mix sugar syrup with vodka mixture

Place the mixture back into the lidded container. Place container in a cool dark place for an additional 30 days. Shake the bottle occasionally to disperse the sugar.
After the mixture has rested for the 30 days, remove the lemon zest if you didn't the first time and separate into decorative bottles or canning jars and store in the freezer.


Don't Waste Those Lemons!!
After the Limoncello was blended and put into the pantry to brew for weeks, I used a juicer to remove the lemon juice from the leftover lemons.

About 1/2 to 3/4 cup (or to your desired tartness) of the concentrated lemon juice mixed with 2 quarts of water and a little sugar makes wonderful fresh lemonade!  I froze the lemon juice in small single serving containers for later use.
The rest of the lemons and the seeds went out to the pasture for the animals to have a snack too, so nothing was wasted.

I am currently working on cleaning out my flowers beds and uncovering emerging tulips and daffodils.  
I’m also in the middle of building a small greenhouse from old salvaged wood windows.  
I can’t wait until it’s complete and I’m so glad Spring has arrived!



Anonymous said...

This looks and sounds awesome!! Yum! We love coming up with new summer drinks!
Gonna give your yummy Limoncello recipe a try today! Gretchen

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Great, let me know how you like it and drink suggestions!

Anonymous said...

I love lemon so will be sure to try this. Not sure I will share or give any away but was wondering how this would be using oranges? Bob

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Bob. I usually have the same problem, the giving it away one, haha.
Not sure about using oranges instead of lemons, but sounds like it would be worth the try. Let me know how it turns out! Elizabeth

Unknown said...

Was Larry's last name couch?

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Last names of friends I think best not to give out, don't you?