Friday, November 7, 2014

Adventures in the Kitchen: Limoncello

Limoncello Limoncello

Extra Virgin is one of my absolute favorite shows on the Cooking Channel.  I have adored Debi Mazar since FOREVER and to watch her and her husband, Gabriele, be adorable in the kitchen is the best!  When they made Limoncello, of course I was all, "I can do that!" and I put it off for quite some time...
Until I was thinking of the perfect wedding present for Lauren and Chandler.  Their home bar rivals that of the fanciest bars and speakeasies around town and I wanted to give them something unique.  So why not homemade hooch?!

Click through to check out the process!

The process is simple: follow Debi and Gabriele's recipe, of course!  Actually, the process is very dependent on patience (which is something I'm short of).  Luckily for me, my Mom let me have the dark bottom corner of her pantry for this month and a half long process, which meant I wouldn't unnecessarily move it around or open it too early.

It starts with the peels of 14 lemons. What do you do with the peeled lemons? Make infused water - which is exactly what my Mom did.

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Next, add the largest amount of Everclear...EVER (6 1/3 cups to be exact).  I had a funny conversation at the liquor store as I was buying the biggest bottle they had.
Check out this little Insta video of the lemon peels macerating.

Limoncello Limoncello

Once the maceration has started, it's time to let it sit in the darkest undisturbed corner of your house for 2 weeks.  Once the two weeks is over, it's time for the simple syrup.  I used a 2 pound box of Sugar in the Raw for mine because I didn't want to use overly processed white granulated sugar, hence the honey color of the finished product.  Next time, I'll prepare a trip to Whole Foods for some special not-overly-processed white sugar so I can achieve that pretty yellow color.

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I was very careful straining the lemon peels from the Everclear mixture.  By that, I mean no drop was left behind!  Those lemon peels were dry as a bone and I reserved all that beautiful lemon infused grain alcohol to mix in with the caramely simple syrup.  Once I had both liquids in the storage container, it was time to let it sit...for ONE MONTH.  I let mine go for an extra week because of work, packing and other things but I made sure to shake it up at lease once or twice a week.

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Then, it was time for bottling!  I had a rough time finding bottles.  I went to Ikea - where I got those little baby bottles in front (perfect for smaller portions), Bed Bath and Beyond (where I found nothing, surprisingly) and, finally, Target - which was where I got the 4 milk bottles and the larger bottle in the middle.  I know for next time I'll probably be better off ordering a set of smaller bottles during the month-long waiting period.  I guess time got away from me...there was a lot going on, you know!
According to everyone who has tasted it - including a co-worker's wife who had just come back from Italy - says it's wonderful!  My co-worker's wife said you could put straight up Italian Limoncello next to my version and you can't taste the difference!  My co-worker said, "The first word after taking a sip was, 'WOW'".  I'm so flattered!  For my next batch, I want to get the color all nice and pretty for presentation purposes.

Want to try your hand at making some?  It's super easy, I promise!  Follow the Extra Virgin recipe here!  I'd love to see your process and results!  I'm looking at you, Jess :)

Have an awesome weekend!

PS - the little sticky note that's peeking from the mixing container is actually a little note with loving intentions that I made following Caroline's instructions for her Crystal Elixirs.  I figured why not put loving intentions into my Limoncello, especially for the happy couple!  :)