Monday, October 29, 2007
well, last week chris and i had an anniversary. it was our 4th. we had a great dinner (prepared by chris), we put max to bed and began our adventure in making our first batch of lemoncello. i searched for a few recipes and found this one that i liked, it was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette few weeks ago and the amount that it makes seemed to be what i would need for some christmas gifts. the recipe calls for lemons from the Almalfi Coast, yeah, not gonna find those anywhere locally so i went to my local costco and bought two large bags of very large lemons, each bag had 10 lemons each. these lemons weren't the normal sized ones that you find in the grocery, they were huge! very nice, plump, and gave off a nice amount of zest. this photo shows how much zest you get from one large lemon. i used a potato peeler to get as much of it as i could.
each of the recipes i found said to keep as much of the pith, the white part under the zest, out of the mixture, apparently it will make it bitter. another good tip was to gently wash the lemons with some sort of abrasive cloth to get the wax off prior to peeling. apparently that will also cause unwanted bitterness to your batch. i gently scrubbed mine with a green pad.
NOTE: all photography except for the shot directly above, has been graciously donated by my photographer husband, chris. disclaimer: the background in the photos keeps changing... items keep disappearing, the knives, the plate on the wall, etc.... this annoys the crap out of me but chris was going for a certain look so he kept taking items out of the photo.... :)
once all 20 lemons were peeled i stuffed the peels into a large jug.
once all the peels were into the large jug i poured two large bottles of Nikoli 100 proof vodka in with them. most all the recipes that i found called for 100 proof grain alcohol but that is not available in pennsylvania so as an alternative vodka is recommended.
the two large bottles of vodka and all the peels filled the entire one gallon jug. i put the lid on gave it a few shakes and into a dark cabinet it went where the vodka is now taking on the lemony flavor and goodness from the 20 lemons worth of peel. i plan to let this mixture steep until the first week in december (about 35 days). at that time i will strain the peel from the vodka and a 1/2 gallon of simple syrup will be added to the whole batch. total, i should have about 1 1/2 gallons of lemoncello for christmas gifts this year. i purchased these from IKEA to bottle the finished product in. i like the look of them and how they seal. then a friend of mine, who is also considering making a batch, came up with the idea to make a little card that includes some serving suggestions. this is a great idea that i'm totally steeling, thanks blogless alyssa :)
this project was very easy and hopefully the outcome will warrant a repeat.
one more photo.... thanks for being my personal photographer honey, my photos just weren't working out the way i had planned so i'm glad you stepped in to assist.
as for the fate of the 20 peeled lemons, they did not go to waste. chris juiced all 20 of them on the worlds smallest hand juicer and then we made a small amount of simple syrup and made some of the BEST fresh lemonade i've ever ever EVER had. the 20 lemons made enough lemonade to fill another 1 gallon jug.
there will be a follow-up post sometime in december regarding how the batch turned out and the rest of the process.