Remember last month when I went to my friend Phyllis’ home and made liqueur? Well the limoncello needed time to ferment. One month later, it has come to fruition.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast and adjoining Sorrento Peninsula are the regions most famous for limoncello, an intensely lemony liqueur, traditionally served ice cold as an aperitif or digestive after-dinner drink. Some believe that limoncello was used in the morning by fishermen and countrymen to fight the cold, since the invasion periods. Others, instead, believe that the recipe was born inside a monastic convent to delight the monks from prayer to prayer.
Ingredients: 18 lemons + 4 to 6 inch rosemary sprig + Two 750 ml 60 Proof Vodka + 4 1/2 C sugar + 5 C water
Peel lemons with a sharp vegetable peeler, taking only the zest (top layer) and avoiding any white pith. Put rosemary in a 1-gal. glass or ceramic container with a tight seal. Add zest to jar.
Pour one bottle of 750 ml vodka over rosemary and zest; seal container. Let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days.
In a saucepan, bring 5 cups water to a boil and add sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Let sugar syrup cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Pour syrup and remaining 750 ml. vodka over lemon-vodka mixture, stir, and seal container. Let sit in a cool, dark place for another 40 days.
Pour limoncello through cheesecloth into a large spouted pitcher and divide among gift bottles.
Phyllis’ and Sunset Magazine Points:
1. Phyllis prefers this recipe to the traditional Italian Limoncello recipes. She likes vodka which she believes is less bitter than ones made with Ever-clear.
2. When peeling lemons do not include the white pith which will make the drink bitter.
3. This rosemary came from a ranch in Idaho and Phyllis gave it to me. It is nearly 3 months old and is as fresh as if it was cut today. This drink was a favorite of her late husband.
4. Either Meyer or Eureka lemons work in this recipe (the fragrant Meyer is especially good, though). To speed up the process, shorten the infusing time in steps 2 and 4 to 1 week each, and you’ll have a fine although less intense liqueur. Limoncello keeps indefinitely in the freezer.