I made a small batch of Limoncello for my sister this fall. Sadly (not sadly) it didn't all fit in the jar and I had to keep a 1/4 pint for myself. And oh. My. Goodness. I'm not sure when I've tasted something so divine!
Sweet but not overly so, lemony and smooth, it was dreamy. I wanted to try a batch without refined sugar (something my body doesn't love) and I thought honey would pair nicely with Meyers. And so I set to work on a second batch, tweaking my recipe until I found a method that worked for either honey or sugar.
And here it is.
Make a batch now and it will be ready to bottle up before Valentine's Day.
You can share a few small jars with your friends, your neighbors, and your sweetie. (But take my advice and keep a jar for yourself, too, won't you? You'll be glad you did.)
Homemade Organic Limoncello Recipe
6-8 organic Meyer lemons (6 for slow infusion, 8 for quick) (If Meyer lemons are not available feel free to substitute regular lemons)
3 C organic vodka (I found this brand at our local grocery store.)
1 C organic sugar (or 1 scant C raw honey)
1 C water
Making limoncello is deceptively simply. Honestly. And while this project takes two to six weeks to complete, the hands-on work takes just minutes. And the results are out of this world.
First, decide how limoncello you want.
Then make a little more. Because you can trust me when I say that you will want to keep some for yourself. One batch will yield approximately 1 1/2 pints (give or take), and the recipe easily doubles or triples. (To save you the math, a single batch will use up 2/3 of a 175 ml bottle, so if you buy two you can crank out a triple batch. Do it.)
Second, evaluate much time you have.
Is this a hurried project for a gift? Something you'd like jarred up in just two or three weeks? Get the extra lemons. It will yield a flavorful limoncello, despite the rush. Have a full month or more for your infusion? Six per batch is plenty.
Third, infuse your vodka.
Wash and dry Meyer lemons.
Remove zest using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, removing as little pith as possible. Reserve lemons for another use. (I shared a few ideas at the bottom of this post.)
Place lemon zest in a glass quart jar and cover with vodka, approximately 3 C. Be sure all zest are submerged, then cover and tuck away in a dark cupboard.
Give it a stir every week or so, and allow to infuse for 2 to 6 weeks. When your limoncello is fragrant and the peels are beginning to lose their vibrancy it's time to strain. (For the rushed batch the peels will still be bright when you strain. That's normal.)
Compost the zest, or if you did the quick batch cover with a smaller amount of vodka for a second round.
Fourth, make a simple syrup.
On the day that you strain your infusion, place 1 C water in small saucepan over medium heat. When warm add sugar or honey stir to dissolve. Allow to cool, then add to your limoncello to taste. (You'll probably add most if not all, but you never know, so add and taste, add and taste.)
Transfer to a pretty little mason jar or two, label and share.
Oh, and tuck one away for yourself too.
What to do with those lemons?
I do not view a mountain of zestless Meyer lemons as a problem. Honestly, it's just an invitation to make more delicious things. Here are a few ideas for you.
Frozen lemon quarters for warm lemon water
When I find myself in this delicious predicament I usually just quarter and freeze the lemons for my morning lemon water habit. Then in the morning I drop a frozen lemon quarter in my mug and cover with warm water. After a few minutes I squeeze the lemon with the back of the spoon and enjoy.
Starting your day with warm lemon water is healthy habit to begin. It aids digestion, is a gentle detox, boosts the immune system, hydrates your body and your skin, and more. (Be further convinced here.)
Meyer lemon curd
You really can't go wrong with lemon curd. This recipe (like most) calls for lemon zest, but don't be dismayed. Just replace it with a touch of extra juice. It won't be exactly the same but it will still be divine.
Grass-fed Meyer lemon gelatin
If you haven't made 'jello' with real, whole ingredients you're missing out! We love it over here. Use this recipe and your lemons, but know that you might need an extra drop or two of honey since even Meyer lemons are more sour than oranges.
Frozen juice cubes
And while this is arguably the least exciting idea on my list, I love to juice my lemons, then freeze the fresh lemon juice in an ice cube tray. Pop the cubes into a jar and store in my kitchen freezer, they are lovely to have on hand for soups, pancakes, salad dressings… all the things that would benefit from a little lemony spunk.