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Properly Sauced: Quick and Easy Limoncello

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Apr 13, 2009 6:00PM

Came down with the mother of all chest colds last week, which also led to the worst sore throat we've had in years. Lucky we had five liters of the cure in the freezer that didn't cost us an arm and leg to make. Consider this recipe the next time you're tempted by the kitsch of buying Danny Devito's Limoncello (if you check out that link, click on the musical Sorrento lemon at your own risk).

It's been a while since we made limoncello; with the orangecello we made a couple years back finally finished, it was due time. Now, had we known the recipe included in this entry would yield 2-1/2 liters of limoncello, we wouldn't have bought double everything. But five liters of limoncello in the freezer is a good problem to have, we have lots of friends who like the stuff, and warm weather is coming.

The recipe we used comes from the website What's Cooking America. Two things. First, we used Polish grain alcohol which, in our experience, has a smoother taste than Everclear. Second, we let the lemon rinds steep in the grain alcohol for 30 days, to get as much oil and color from the zest as possible. A good sign that this has been achieved: after the rind has been removed, the infused grain alcohol looks like, um, urine.

1 liter (750 ml) of Everclear alcohol
10 medium to large lemons
1 1/2 liters of water (6 1/3 cups)
3 pounds of sugar (6 1/2 cups)

Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry. Using a potato peeler, take all the lemon rinds off of the lemons so there is no white pith on the peel. Place the rind-peelings in a large container with the Everclear alcohol. Cover the container and let it sit for seven days.

On the eighth day, strain the the peels from alcohol; discard peels.

In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar; let it simmer "fast" for 15 minutes. Let simple syrup cool to room temperature. Add to alcohol.

You are now finished and can drink it right away.