Experimenting with homemade limoncello, pt. 2

Earlier this month I posted about my attempt at making homemade limoncello. When we left off, the lemon zest had begun its two week vodka bath. (I wish I could take a two week vodka bath.) I completed the last steps of the process a few days ago, leaving the limoncello just about ready to drink.

The first step in part two of the recipe is to create some simple syrup. To do this, heat two cups of water and two cups of sugar together to just below boiling. Once all the sugar has dissolved, take it off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Imbibe says that warm syrup will result in cloudy limoncello. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d rather maximize clarity.

The next thing to do is filter the lemon zest out of the vodka. This is done by pouring the infusion through moistened cheese cloth suspended over a bowl. Use a rubber band to keep the cloth in place as in the photo at right. At the top of the post is a picture of the cloth with all the zest left behind. Be sure to squeeze all the juice out of it before throwing it all away.

From here on out it’s smooth sailing. If you managed to keep the bottle of vodka leftover from last time away from yourself and thirsty roommates, pour it into the bowl with the filtered infusion. Otherwise, admit you have a problem, run out to the liquor store, and buy a new one. Try not to drink it on the way home.

Finally, pour the simple syrup into the bowl and stir it all up. Congratulations, you’ve got limoncello! Bottle it in the vessel of your choice and stick it in the freezer. A week of ageing will help the flavors marry, but it’s drinkable now. Pour the cold liquid into a chilled shot glass and sip slowly. Ahhhh….

Thanks to a couple friends, I was able to sample a couple of authentic Italian limoncellos recently to refresh my memory of what they taste like. My homemade batch compares surprisingly well. It’s a little sweeter, but the flavors are very similar. It’s noticeably less filtered, too, but I don’t think that matters. The backlighting int he photo of the bottles makes it look misleadingly pale. Verdict: Success!

The good results of this experiment have inspired to me keep trying infusions. For next time I’m thinking lime and ginger. And then, oh, weeniecello? Probably not.

Coming up, what to do with all those zestless lemons.

[Update 8/30/06: Make some lemon sherbet with those leftover fruits.]

[This post was originally published at EatFoo(d) on 8/30/06.]