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Meyer Limoncello

Meyer Limoncello


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This fragrant Italian lemon liqueur is perfect in a Prosecco cocktail, in sparkling lemonade, or sipped straight. It is simple to make at home, and makes a wonderful gift.MORE+LESS-

12

Meyer lemons (or other variety of lemon)

750

ml Grain alcohol (such as Everclear™)

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  • 1

    Trim the stem end off each Meyer lemon, then cut each lemon into quarters. Alternately: if using regular lemons, remove the zest from the lemon rind, taking care to avoid the white pith.

  • 2

    Stuff all the cut Meyer lemon (or zest) into a half gallon jar (or two quart Mason jars) and pour in the grain alcohol. Leave this in a cool, dark place for two week, shaking daily.

  • 3

    After two weeks have passed, heat the water and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the lemons and alcohol into the pot and stir.

  • 4

    Strain the liqueur back into the jar and return to the cool, dark place for another two weeks to mellow, shaking occasionally.

  • 5

    Pour the limoncello into growlers with rubber stoppers. Chill in the freezer before serving.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

More About This Recipe

  • Liqueurs are making a big comeback!They have a delightfully old-ladyish quality that I love (seriously, you should see my collection of vintage aprons), yet they can be totally sophisticated if made from good ingredients. And though high-quality liqueurs and flavored spirits are usually pretty spendy, they are super easy to make at home.What you need to do first is amass a collection of jars and bottles (Ikea has growlers for really cheap, or you can just use quart Mason jars). Then think about what types of drinks you like best. Are you a flowery or fruity ladylike type? Do you prefer those dapper woody, nutty notes? Bitter, sweet, herbal; you can try your hand at a variety of flavors.One I made recently is Meyer Limoncello. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur, and since citrus are coming up on the end of their season in the US, now is a good time to try snagging a couple pounds of lemons (I use fragrant Meyers but you can use any lemon). Fill a half-gallon jar with as much lemon peel as you can stand to remove (this is around 7 or 8 lemons). It gets old after awhile, I know. This is another reason why I like to use the Meyers—you can quarter them and toss them in whole because they're less bitter. But if you're going with regular lemons, try to just get mostly zest and not the bitter, white pith.Pour your liqueur into pretty growlers or any bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers (clear is best so you can see the pretty yellow color). Store these in the freezer—or if you're a saint, they make great gifts. I like to drink mine with sparkling lemonade as an afternoon spritzer or as a cocktail with Prosecco and a few muddled berries. It's also a great thing to just bust out when you have unexpected guests. And hey, I'll let you in on a little secret. This recipe can be used for lots of other liqueurs. I make a killer lavendercello that is a hit at summer parties, and am gearing up to try my hand at homemade Crème de Violette (or Crème Yvette, combining violets and vanilla).If all that sounds like too much work, I've got just the thing: Apple Brandy. The flavors of apples (or pears) and brandy are a no-brainer together. Fill a jar with the sweetest, most flavorful apples you can find. I have a rickety old apple tree in my neighborhood that has tiny fruits, and it's perfect, but any really fragrant heirloom variety will be gorgeous. Fill a jar with the cut apples (cored and stemmed, obvy) and pour on enough good brandy to cover them. Leave this on a shelf for a few weeks, shaking when you remember, and then strain into corkable bottles. I know it's kind of an old-dude thing to sip brandy, but who cares? Old dudes are kind of awesome! And your friends will be impressed to have a little glass of your own homemade apple brandy while you pass around a tray of sharp cheese gougères, and everyone will think you are so cosmopolitan and sophisticated.And you are.

Limoncello – referred to in northern Italy more often as limoncino – is a lemon liqueur that originated in southern Italy, especially along the coast of Amalfi. A liqueur combines alcohol (usually a grain or neutral, i.e. tasteless, spirit) with flavorings such as fruits, herbs or other aromatics. It’s also often sweetened, and limoncello is no different.

The traditional limoncello recipe call for nothing more than lemon zest, neutral spirits and a simple syrup. Uncomplicated enough to make at home, delicious enough to serve to guests.


Meyer limoncello

As I made Eugenia’s preserved lemons recipe yesterday (in this book, and soon also featured in my own book, out April of this year!), I ended up with a little more than a cup of leftover Meyer lemon juice (my local, organic Meyers were big!) and six gorgeous rind halves.

And, as usual, I asked myself “What would Eugenia do with these components, WWEBD?” [By the way, I’m not creepy, I just think Eugenia Bone is a smart kitchen ecologist. She’s half depression-era-granny and half culinary-genius she taught me a ton when I hung out in her gorgeous SoHo kitchen last year.]

Back to my cutting board. The peels were were too soft and fragrant to throw out. The juice obviously had a destination in a vodka cocktail later that evening. Meyer lemon cocktails…Mmmm. Then it hit me, limoncello!

I must be honest until looking it up last night I had no idea what limoncello really was (and how easily I could actually make it). Thankfully, I had just the place to turn since the lovely folks at Harvard Common Press sent me a sweet little prize awhile back:

Fun, low-stress infusing guide [Aside: Isn’t it nice to have an actual book to consult? Maybe you’re an internet-only kind of person, but new ventures always seem less daunting to me when there’s a good old-fashioned book nearby.]

You can imagine my surprise and excitement to find out that not only did I have the exact components I needed for infusing a citrus liqueur (the rinds), but I wouldn’t even need to go to the store in two weeks when that part is finished.

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?

Boozy fruit is supposed to be the new thing, circa late summer 2010. The easy way to preserve stuff, no hot water, no sanitary jar sealing rules. Well, I admit, getting fruit drunk has eluded me until yesterday because it seemed like I needed things (like grain alcohol) that I hadn’t any idea how to get, or like infusing/fermenting vats that I can’t afford right now, plus lots of time for the infusing to take place.

I’m not much of a liquor store go’er and grain alcohol still eludes me, even though I know it’s just Everclear. I like recipes that call for vodka. I know right where to find that, and we usually always have some on hand. Rum gives me a headache no matter how hard I try to ignore memory. My point is, choose a recipe that is based on something you can afford, access and actually like to drink.

While it’s true that you’re not going to ‘whip up’ a batch of limoncello or citrus liqueur in less than a month, it’s actually great for busy people. A few concentrated efforts spread out over time, and the rest of the time you conduct business as usual, hiding your infusions in the back of the cabinet until it’s time to stir and add a sugar syrup. Not all recipes will be the same, but don’t give up on the whole idea (like I did) because one looks too hard or involved.

I’ve been obsessed with Meyers since I discovered them last year. Meyer Limoncello

recipe modified from limoncello and two other citrus liqueur recipes in Luscious Liqueurs

takes 4 weeks, yields about a quart of liqueur

1. Halve and juice 4 or 5 organic Meyer lemons* (more if they’re smaller, less if they’re really large). Make something with the juice, like fancy lemonade, spiked or not) or hopefully you’re making another recipe with the Meyers that doesn’t call for the rinds.

*If you’re making liqueur, marmalade, preserved lemons, or anything that calls for rinds, it’s really important to make sure your citrus is organic since the rind is the place where pesticides accumulate in most conventionally grown produce.

2. Scrape as much pith out of the rinds as possible. I had a few good stem ends on hand too, so I de-pithed those as best I could. Don’t pitch those rinds! 3. Slice the rind halves each into about four long strips and place them into a clean, glass quart jar.

4. Add 2 cups high proof vodka (100 proof) and make sure all the rinds are for the most part submerged. Add clean, two-part lid and band (or anything that will ensure an airtight seal). Label jar directly with a sharpie indicating the contents and the date two weeks from now. (When you’re ready for the next step, you can remove that sharpie ink from the glass with some rubbing alcohol or a dot of your vodka.)

5. Hide your infusing rinds in a cabinet (away from light and heat) and wait it out! Give the jar a gentle swirl every few days to ensure the rinds are infusing and distributed evenly.

Two weeks later…

6. Make a simple syrup by dissolving 1.5 cups sugar in 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a low boil for 5 min. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp for about an hour. This ratio will make a tad more than 2 cups. Save any leftovers in a glass jar in the fridge for other uses.

7. Add 2 cups simple syrup to your rind-infused vodka, stir well and seal it up again for two weeks. Re-sharpie the date two weeks from now onto the jar. And, as before, swirl the mixture every few days to keep things evenly distributed.

Two weeks later…

8. Strain liqueur through two pieces of cheesecloth, two separate times. Place your strained liqueur in a clean glass jar or into a few smaller bottles and store in the freezer so it’s chilled to perfection when you’re ready to sip!


How It’s Made

As we said, there are typically only three ingredients: sugar, spirit, and lemon. For the spirit, grain alcohol is generally used, and while I’ve seen recipes that call for a grape-based spirit (like grappa), grain alcohol will typically give you the cleanest lemony flavor. There is a lot of disagreement out there about what proof to use, with many arguing that a high-proof spirit like Everclear is the way to go, because it will extract the flavors most efficiently. That said, in many states, it may be impossible to find anything over 100 proof, and even your typical 80 proof vodka will work it will just take a little more time.

Most recipes you’ll see go like this: “Peel two pounds of lemons. Use a sharp knife to remove the white pith (to prevent bitterness). Put peel into the vodka. Seal in a glass container and let sit for four weeks. Then you strain out the peel and sweeten with sugar syrup.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. America’s Test Kitchen goes that route , and surely it can yield tasty results, but the stuff at Franny’s had an element to it I’ve never tasted before, and it’s achieved by using a different process.

A couple years ago, the New York Times wrote about a technique used by Italian restaurant Nostrana in Portland, Oregon, where rather than peeling the lemons and immersing said peels in the spirit, the lemons hang in little cheesecloth hammocks, suspended above the spirit. Because alcohol volatilizes pretty easily at room temperature (see the sweat on the inside of the glass jar?), essentially what is happening is that the alcohol vapors are macerating the lemon peel. Because it’s doing it from the outside in, you’re just getting the lovely, whole zesty flavors, with none of the bitter pith. This is actually a very old Sicilian technique for making citrus liqueurs.

What Franny’s does is a clever hybrid of the two techniques.


Limoncello is a traditional liqueur that takes you immediately to Italy at the first sip. It is made from the zest of lemons, mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi.

The recipe is truly simple, what varies is the time factor. Some say it takes a couple of days to prepare it, some a week, some in a couple of months or more. Everything depends on how long you decide to let the lemons peels steep in alcohol.

Limoni Costa d'Amalfi IGP from Aceto's lemons grove (ph. Sabrina Rossi)

We offer you a classic limoncello recipe that is prepared in about two months. If you’ve got the patience to wait, it will definitely be worth it. The important thing is to have untreated lemons, a fundamental ingredient for the success of your limoncello. Also, olive leaves – a trick for true connoisseurs.

Once the limoncello is ready, we suggest you transfer it into 16 oz bottles ready to be given as a gift to all the friends who will want to take some home as soon as they taste it. Or keep it ready-to-go in the freezer. Don’t forget that limoncello must be served chilled!

Here’s what you need to do:

Remove the yellow outer peel of 10 thoroughly washed untreated lemons with a potato peeler. Avoid the white interior.

Cut the lemon peels into thin strips and soak them in 25 oz of alcohol in a large glass container with a lid. Add some olive leaves. This is a trick that makes the limoncello truly unique. They are optional, but we advise you to try.

Let this mixture rest for about 20-30 days.

Once this time has elapsed, prepare a syrup by dissolving 2 lbs and 10 oz of sugar in 1.5 quarts of water over the stove. Let it cool and then add it to the alcohol and lemon peels.

Let it rest for another 30 days and then strain the limoncello before pouring it into bottles.


Seasonal Recipe: Meyer Lemon Limoncello

Meyer lemons have taken over. But once you've tired of lemonade, lemon curd, and preserved lemons, set your sights on a boozy batch of Meyer lemon limoncello. It's easy to make, and because you use only the zest for the infused liqueur, you can freeze the juice for later.

Meyer Lemon Limoncello*

8 Meyer lemons
1 cup white sugar
1 quart 100 proof vodka. Get a brand that’s 100% neutral grain spirits.

1. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemons.

2. Put the zest in a 1-quart jar.

3. Add the sugar and enough vodka to fill the container.

4. Screw on the lid and store in a dark place. Feel free to shake the jar periodically to help dissolve the sugar.

5. After 2 weeks, strain out the zest.

6. Return the liquid to the jar and add enough vodka to top off. You don’t need to age this mixture, just put it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

If you’ve used super ripe lemons, you may notice a layer of oil on top of the limoncello. Don’t pour this off it's the richest part, like the cream on unpasteurized milk. Just shake up the limoncello to mix in the citrusy goodness before serving.

Plus, the same recipe works well to make Arancello out of blood oranges. These are just starting to show up around town and are usually available until the end of March. The only differences in the recipe are these:


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