We had to harvest all our Meyer lemons when the “polar vortex” decided to visit the sunshine state. We have one tree about 8-10 feet tall, that must be planted in just the right location because this tree has provided this season at least 500 healthy Meyer lemons. My fingers are crossed that the freeze damage to my citrus tree is minimal and that it can recover.
I have spent the season discovering new ways to enjoy my Meyer lemons. I promised to share my lemons more this season, with family and friends, and I did. I promised to find new ways to use my lemons, and I did. Now, shut the front door! Because I also learned how to make booze with my Meyer lemons. An Italian liqueur called limoncello.
There are two schools of thought on making this Italian classic liqueur. You can use vodka or grain alcohol. A follower took the liberty to school me to ensure that I used grain alcohol. The reasoning is that the grain alcohol has a higher proof, and increases the ability of the alcohol to draw out the insoluble oils in the lemon peel. In theory, this produces a richer lemon flavor. I had so many lemons, that I made it both ways. To play it safe my recipe below uses grain alcohol.
When I went to check on my resting liquor containers (ready 1/24) an observation was made that batches using grain alcohol was already a deeper yellow. The vodka batch was a paler yellow. The jury is still out because taste still matters. No matter at the end of the day I have 13 quarts limoncello to enjoy ice cold with family and friends.
The lemon peels starting their journey to limoncello heaven macerating in the grain alcohol.
Straining the macerated alcohol and discarding the peels.
The final resting place for another month.
Meyer Lemon Limoncello
Recipe from Foodista
15 Meyer Lemons, Organic
2 bottles Everclear Grain Alcohol, 750 ml each
6-1/3 cups water
2- 1/3 lb. (4 cups plus 2/3 cups) of fine white granulated sugar
2 large storage containers or glass jars. I used 2-quart mason jars
Stock pot big enough for alcohol and sugar water
Large hand held mesh strainer
1. Peel lemons carefully with a vegetable peeler into long strips. Do not peel the white pith of the lemon.
2. Place the strips of lemon peel in your containers and distribute evenly
3. Pour the Everclear over the lemon peels and cover tightly to macerate for two weeks.
4. Store away from direct sunlight, preferably in cool dry place
5. Let it rest undisturbed for TWO WEEKS
6. Heat the water and add the sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved. Let cool for about an hour.
7. Strain the liquor removing the lemon peels, into the sugar water pot. Discard lemon peels.
8. Decide if you want to re-use the same storage containers or bottles for your final month of rest.
9. Return the liquor to the container of your choice and rest again for another month.
10. After the long month, your Limoncello is ready!
It is best stored in the freezer and drank cold.