Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It has always been a great big family affair ever since I was a little girl. I remember my Aunt Mabra’s being the most fun and exciting house at Christmas and a lot of my family’s Christmas traditions were modeled after hers. I loved the way she hung what seemed like hundreds of Christmas cards all over the family room walls and doors. And, on the back porch she made a huge crock of eggnog that was pretty much rum, eggs and ice cream, with rum being the main ingredient. Back then, no one seemed to care that us kids drank it in copies amounts. Those were the days. And, even though we are thousands of miles from home, our Christmas’s are still great big family affairs. We have created a family here in South Africa and we spend each Christmas with them along with the odd family member or friend from home.
So, the next few post will be all about the season — starting with this easy DIY festive gift. Limoncello is a. Be careful it is pretty strong even with the addition of sugar and water. It tastes best over ice or as a mixer in a cocktail.
20 lemons, peeled or zested, yellow outer skin only. Discard any peelings that reveal any white pith.2 750ml bottles 160-proof vodka, or grain alcohol
1500 ml (6 cups) sugar
1500 ml (6 cup)s boiling-hot water
Makes about 12 – 14 250 ml bottles, depending on how much tasting you do.
Be sure to scrub store-bought non-organic lemons with a vegetable brush to remove any wax or pesticide residue taking care to rinse well. Wash and rinse home-grown or organic lemons well.
Either peel or zest lemons. Whichever is easier for the type of lemons you are using. When you peel the lemons, use a very sharp paring knife. Be certain not to slice too deeply into the peel. You only want the shallow yellow layer of the peel. You don’t want any of the white spongy pith. The white part of the peel is very bitter and will make your Limoncello bitter. When zesting, take care only to make one pass over any one spot to avoid getting of the pith.
Set aside the peels or zest. Reserve the remainder of the lemon for something else.
Add alcohol to a large glass jar. This one is 4 liters, which is not quite a gallon. A gallon is about 5 liters.
Next add the lemon peels. I used a combination of lemon peels and lemon zest.
Close jar tightly and give it a good shake. Allow the lemon peel flavor to fuse with the alcohol for 6 – 10 days. Shake once a day or so.
After the infusion period, create a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool.
Add sugar syrup to alcohol mixture and shake well.
With a coffee filter in a funnel strain the mixture several times back and forth between the original bottles and the large jar.
Filter one last time directly into individual sterilized bottles.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Limoncello Recipe