When Life (or a Coworker) Brings You Lemons…Make Limoncello!
One April morning, I find lemons in the office kitchen. Bags and bags of lemons. Somebody’s fruit-bearing trees have produced more of the yellow fruit than the family can consume. Score! Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about making limoncello and here’s a neon sign to take action.
The Italians I know who make homemade limoncello have more than once told me they use “pure alcohol.” As products and regulations vary between Italy and the U.S., I do the next logical thing: I drop into BevMo –one of my favorite (emphasis on favorite) stores of all time– for a bottle of Everclear.
The most tedious part about this process is probably cleaning and skinning the lemons. It’s not difficult, but it is time-consuming. Because I’m working with newly picked lemons, I have to brush them somewhat vigorously with water to get rid of the dirt particles. That yellow shine doesn’t just happen fresh off the tree! After the lemons meet a vegetable peeler, here’s what they look like:
It’s downhill from here! Toss your peels into the Everclear and let sit in an airtight container. This is where you have to be patient. Most people will advise you to wait anywhere between 3-6 weeks (give or take a week). In the meantime, you can make lemonade out of those poor, ravaged, skinless lemons.
A month later, I pull the sunshine-filled container out of the cabinet. Could I have let it sit for just a couple of weeks? Sure, but that somehow feels like pulling wine out of a barrel prematurely. Conversely, could I have let it sit for another week or two? Sure, but I am somewhat impatient at this point (and thirsty). Anyway, I open aforementioned container for the first time in 32 days and lean in for a whiff…BAM! I think my sinuses just cleared up. Yes, friends, it is that potent. And silly me, like a moth to a flame, I smell it a second time, as though expecting a different outcome. Nope.
Moving on, it’s time to make simple syrup. Simply boil sugar in water until the mixture is clear, then let cool. Strain the lemon out of the alcohol, mix the alcohol with the simple syrup, and seal your container back up. (This final mixture is much more nose-friendly.) Alas, the limoncello must go back to its spot on the shelf, and sit again for a little while longer. Three days later, I move the limoncello into the fridge (finally!). At last, we have something to toast with/to. Cin cin.