Step One: Making Limoncello
Costco has been carrying Meyer lemons the last few weeks. We don’t normally see the tart-sweet fruits in this area. Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons, and they have a much more floral scent. Their color is somewhere between yellow and orange, similar to a really fresh egg yolk. Some accounts state that Meyer lemons come from a cross between a Mandarin orange and a lemon. But that could be because that’s what the juice tastes like.
I bought two of the four pound packages and am in process of figuring out what to do with these golden treasures. I decided to start with a recipe that will give me double mileage. A few years ago I made Limoncello and loved it. Meyer lemons are supposed to make some of the best Limoncello and since the recipe only requires the zest I’ll also be able to use the juice for something else.
So today is step 1 of my new batch of Limoncello. I’ll document the steps as I go along, if you want to make some, too. Just a warning – this is not a quick process. Step one requires 2 to 3 weeks. Step two can take as little as another three weeks but your liqueur gets much better if you let it sit longer. I think three months is about right. So settle in for a long ride.
The good news is that the hardest part is waiting – there’s really very little work involved.
For step one all you do is zest six or seven large lemons. Place the zest in a glass or stainless steel container. Plastic will work but is not ideal. Do not use an aluminium container as it will react with the citrus. Add one 750ml bottle of 100 proof vodka. (This is the cheaper vodka you’ll find on the bottom shelf of the liquor store.) If you can’t fine 100 proof, 80 proof will still work. Step one may take a little longer and when we get to mixing in the simple syrup in step two you may want to adjust the recipe it a bit so that your Limencello isn’t too low-alcohol – more on that when we get to step two.
Once you’ve mixed the zest and vodka, close the jar and place it at room temperature in a dark place. A pantry or closet is ideal. And now we wait.
Note: If your lemons have been waxed – if they are pretty and shiny – you’ll first want to remove the wax. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lemons and then remove them after about 30 seconds. Immediately wipe them with a rough towel. That will remove most of the wax.