Homemade Lemoncello….Lightly Lovely

Last winter I made some lemoncello.  This is an Italian vodka based lemon liquor.  I used the peels of Meyer lemons my brother sent me from his lemon tree in Texas last November.  But if you don’t have a supply of these sweet thin skinned lemons you can use lemons from the grocery store.  Best if you can get organic ones.  Wash them well and let them dry completely before peeling.

meyer lemons

Meyer lemons

I used some potato based vodka to be sure it was gluten free, a 750 ml bottle is enough.  This is a simple recipe although it takes a number of weeks to get the finished product.  Basically you peel just the yellow parts off the skin/rind of 8-10 or so lemons, I use my sharpest peeler and try not to get much white peel as it is bitter. Then, dump the peels in a big jar, cover completely with the vodka, let stand a minimum of 30 days; up to 40 days.  Then make some sugar syrup:  mix 3 ½ cups sugar and 2 ½ cups water, bring to a boil, stirring. Let cool completely.  Pour it over the peels and vodka and let stand overnight.

I also have made it by draining off the peels and mixing the lemon infused vodka right with the sugary syrup.  I suggest you use the peels for candying.  Pour the newly made liquor into an empty wine bottle and cork it.  Let stand 30 days before using.  Some people claim it has to be kept in the fridge and others in the freezer. I have tried the fridge; fine but I even leave it out in its bottle and have never had mold; it is really booze and sugar.  Mine seems to keep well for several months on a shelf, if it lasts that long! The finished product is a pale champagne color with a sweet lemony taste.

You can roll the wet lemon peels in granulated sugar and let them dry on wax paper or in a dehydrator.  Fully dry, they can be ground up in the blender to make lemon sugar for adding to flour mixtures for dessert items; adds just a touch of lemon flavor.

Some people like it less sweet; use a cup less sugar in your simple syrup mixture.

lemoncello top

I like to pour about an ounce, maybe two into a short glass, add an ice cube or two and top with some filtered or bubbly seltzer water and perhaps a thin curl of lemon or even a skinny wedge of ripe honeydew melon.  Yummy in the hot summer and even as the fall cools down.  Perfect on a Sunday afternoon.  Get peeling!

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