Friday, December 2, 2011

Limoncello - my kind of advent craft!

My bloggy friend, Emily, at The Nest, has started a linky party of advent crafts.     She makes lovely, homey things, including an adorable Sweet Pea doll that my granddaughter loves, and she is the one who taught me to make pipe cleaner people and other adorable oddments.
    I wanted to join in with her party, but my linky mojo isn't working, so you'll need to go straight to her to see other crafty suggestions to make this a special advent season.    You'll find things like Karen's advent wreath - my grandchildren and I made a variation of it last night!
My Holiday "craft" this year is homemade Limoncello, a lemon-flavored liquor that I had for the first time in Italy, where it was served without my ordering it after a heavy dinner, and before dessert.   I thought it was too strong (child that I was in those days), but it did serve to settle my stomach.   My little sister mentioned last year that she had tried it here and loved it, so I made a batch this fall.   She drank it, so I made another batch.

Last week, I started getting text messages from her.  "I am so addicted to this limoncello," she wrote one day.   A day or so later, she texted, "OK, just did a side by side limoncello comparison.  Yours rocks."   And, finally, "This is not a hint.   But your limoncello helps me sleep.   And you know how much trouble I've had lately sleeping.   Seriously."

So I picked up another couple dozen lemons, and a couple more jugs of vodka, and got to work.

The hardest part is grating the lemons.   I use a microplane grater, because you want all the yellow and none of the white.   You soak the grated lemon in vodka for 4 days and then add a cooked simple syrup.   Let it sit, strain it a couple of times.   Chill and drink.     Simple.    Because I started this batch so late, and because my schedule will prevent me from straining it as quickly as the recipe directs, this time my lemon peel will steep for over a week.   From what I've read on the internet, this should not be a problem because traditional recipes call for steeping the peel for as long as several months.   

My recipe comes from Mario Batali.   He said it was worth making and, according to my sister, he was right.

  4 Cup vodka
  zest of 10 very clean lemons
  2 1/2 Cup sugar
  3 1/2 Cup water
Place vodka and zest in a sealable jar, like a mason jar and allow to sit in a cool place for 4 days. 

On the fifth day place 2 1/2 cups sugar and 3 1/2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Allow to cook 5 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Add sugar solution to the vodka solution and allow to stand overnight. 

Strain through a layer of cheesecloth in a conical sieve, pressing the solids firmly.  Strain again through a second layer in the same manner. 

Chill and allow to stand at least 1 week.  Serve very cold.    I keep a bottle in the freezer.    The stuff I give away goes into a pretty bottle with a pretty label, at least in theory.


Emily@theNest said...

Oh gosh, Gail, I can see Christmas passing off in a haze, ha ha!! Sounds absolutely delicious, I love lemon- flavoured anything... some lemon in olive oil or sugar would be delicious too!!

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

OMG- That sounds so good and I've never had it. I may give it a try - I have trouble sleeping ya know..... :-)

Karen said...

oh yeah! Just what we need around here - looks like a lot of shopping for me!

Love the variation on the wreath - we might have to make a few of those as well - very cool!

I will have to step away from your blog now, or I WILL be here ALL night! But, I will be back (did you say that with the Arnold accent? LOL)