Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Limoncello: The Perfect Gift

By Erin Ferucci
Celebrity Lifestyle Designer

Looking for the perfect present for your the adults on your gift list? Homemade Limoncello is delicious treat that will be sure to please everyone on your list. It's inexpensive to make at this time of year when ripe lemons are cheap.

What you will need:

15 or 20 ripe lemons- It is important to buy them right off the tree. You are going to be using the skins for zest, so you don't want the variety that you would buy in grocery store (those are usually coated with wax). So buy fresh organic lemons at the Farmer's market or pick them right off of your tree if you live in Southern California.

2 Bottles of 80 Proof Vodka or Everclear

3 cups of Water

3 cups of Sugar

2 -large (at least 3 liters) glass containers with lids

2-4 glass jars with resealable lids (the size will depend on how large you would like your gift to be)
Wash the glass containers thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Rinse them well and then sterilize them in boiling water for at least a few minutes. Set them on a rack or dish towel to cool.

Wash the lemons thoroughly, remove any blemishes and all stems and ends, you only want to use perfectly yellow skin. Zest the lemons using great caution to get only zest and no pith. Pith is the white part directly below the skin. Pith is bitter and will make your Limoncello bitter, so avoid getting any in your luscious mix!
Put all of the zest into the glass containers. Pour the vodka on top. Make sure that all of the zest is submerged in the vodka and leave at least 2 inches of head space between the top of the liquid and the top of the jar. Put the lid on the jar and seal tightly.

Put the jars in a cool, dark place to rest. The zest needs to marinate for at least 2 weeks, but you can leave it for up to 3 months! The longer you wait the better your limoncello will taste.

About 2-4 weeks before gift giving time it is time to make the simple syrup that will finish the recipe. Place the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and heat slowly while you stir. Gradually the sugar will all dissolve. When it has dissolved, let it cool. Once the simple syrup is thoroughly cooled add it to the zest/vodka mixture. Reseal the jar and leave it in it's cool, dark place for at least 2 more weeks.
At least a week before gift giving bottle your limoncello in clean sterilized jars. Strain all of the zest from the liquid before bottling. You can do this using coffee filters or clean cheesecloth. Keep the bottled gifts in a cool, dark location for at least another week.Before giving my gifts I look to put them in the freezer and attach a pretty ribbon with a tag that says: Serve Chilled. Don't be surprised if your recipients ask for more!

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