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Step Three: Making Limoncello – The Finale

Well, it took me a little longer to get here than I thought it would.  Mainly due to my schedule more than anything else.  The good news is that this recipe does not have to be precise.  I just hate delaying the steps because that means it takes a little longer to get to the finale! 
To bring you up to date, we started with Step One:  Making Limoncello and Step two:  Checking In.  Today we are going to do the final assembly.  And just to make sure we are all on the same page.  The following instructions are for a single batch (one 750ml (fifth) of vodka), although in several of the photos you’ll actually see two jars of the vodka-rind concoction. 
By this point much of the color should have leached from the rind and the vodka should be tinted yellow.  In the photo above you’ll see one jar is darker than the other.  I decided to experiment with vodka brands this time and it’s interesting how much darker the one on the right (Monarch) is than the one on the left (Gordons). 
The next step is to strain the rind from the vodka.  Line a funnel with a coffee filter, pour the vodka-rind mixture through the filter a little at a time.  Let the vodka completely drain.  I actually let mine sit overnight. 
While the vodka is draining mix a batch of Simple Syrup. 
Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Mix together in a small pan.   Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down and then boil for 2 minutes.  Let cool.  This will make about 1 1/2 cups of syrup. 
Once the vodka is completely drained and the Simple Syrup is cool you are ready to mix. 
And this is where your judgement comes into play.  Depending on your preferences and how sweet or tart your lemons were you’ll need to adjust the amount of simple syrup you add.  Two things to keep in mind:  as the flavors meld over time, the vodka taste will become much softer; limoncello is generally drunk chilled and when alcohol is chilled the flavor is muted.  In other words be careful how much simple syrup you add.  It may seem you need more now but later the liqueur might taste too sweet. 
I start by adding about half of the syrup to my vodka, stir it up and taste.  Then I’ll add a little more, stir and taste.  I’ll repeat this until I have the right mix for my taste.  With this first batch today I used just over a cup of the syrup – I had about 1/3 cup remaining. 
I’ve started draining the second batch today and my guess is that when I add simple syrup tomorrow I may use a different amount.  I’ll try to remember to come back and update this post when I do. 
Once you have your final mix, bottle it and wait.  One recipe I found says that it’s ready to drink after 7 days, another says 40 days.  Although you will probably enjoy it that time (serve it well chilled) I think it’s best 2 to 3 months after mixing. 
Once it’s bottled store it in your freezer.  The high concentration of alcohol will keep it from freezing. 
Traditionally limoncello is sipped after dinner, sometimes along with a coffee.  I love it for a sweet little hit later in the evening.  Or it can be used in mixed drinks, such as in a Lemon Drop.  You could also add it to soda or sparkling water as a kind of lemonade.  Whatever way you choose to serve it, remember that it packs a punch! 
You can actually use this recipe with any sort of citrus, although lemon is the traditional blend.  With summer coming on it might just be time to experiment with some other versions of this traditional liqueur.    

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