Friday, September 9, 2011

When Life hands you Lemons...

...Make Limoncello!

So, obviously, I've been on this weird "Homesteading" kick lately. Preserving fruits and veggies from my garden... Baking... Jamming... What the HELL is wrong with me?!!

(Don't answer that!!!).

Actually, I've been surfing Netflix a lot, lately, and getting into all of the "What's In Your Food" documentaries (i.e. King Corn, Food Inc., and several documentaries about Genetically-Modified foods) and, frankly, it kinda scares me.

Don't worry, I'm not gonna get all "Activist" on you, but I will admit that some of that stuff *does* bother me (I feel, pretty strongly, that High Fructose Corn Syrup and other Highly-Processed foods *are* related to the current "Obesity" and "Diabetes" Epidemics). Honestly, I rather like the idea of knowing what-goes-into-what-I-eat. And I am, kinda, becoming an advocate of being a "Locavore" - eating only food that was produced locally - because I agree that it is much "kinder" to our planet...

But enough about that!

On a simpler level: I've really rather enjoyed all of my Kitchen Witchery. And I truly love"Creating" stuff - be it artwork or jam (or a big-@$$ mess in the kitchen)! So, when one of my FB friends posted about how they'd made-up a batch of Limoncello, I thought "COOL! I wanna make some too!"

So - Big Surprise! - I consulted Google and found this site. And I pretty-much followed their directions to-the-letter.

But then there was the small matter of not having any lemons (I need to find space for a lemon tree!). Sooo... Enter the world of Freecycle! I put up a "Wanted" post and, lo and behold, I got a couple of responses from people who had overly-abundant lemon trees and were most eager to share the bounty!

I wish I could say that this was an "economical" venture - given that the lemons were free! But I did have to go and purchase all of the "materials" for making Limoncello (Lemon Zesters, Brita water-filter jug and extra filters. Oh, and vodka - duhh!). But - other than the booze - those were one-time investments, so I'm not gonna sweat it (and now I've got all that I need for FUTURE Limoncello Adventures!)...

Okay... Onto the recipe and pictures........................

Get yourself some fresh, organic lemons:

I used 18 of 'em

Okay, they don't absolutely have to be organic. But if they aren't, you'll probably have sticky labels and wax to scrub off of 'em. Regardless, you *do* need to scrub them with a veggie brush and hot water...

Next, get yourself some vodka:

I used 2 @ 750ml bottles of Smirnoff 100 proof

It doesn't have to be "Top Shelf" stuff. But the higher the alcohol content, the better. Everclear (150 proof) would be good, but I couldn't find any.

Run the vodka through a water filter pitcher four times. I got the cheapest (~$10), smallest (5 cups) Brita pitcher and it was the perfect size for one bottle of vodka... This process does take awhile though. I didn't time it, but in the time it took me to zest all of the lemons, I had only managed to quadra-filter one bottle of vodka...

Next Step... Get yourself a fine lemon zester and start scraping:

Kinda messy, but it sure smells good!

I'd read that the Micro-plane zester was "The Very Best," but I ended up buying an OXO zester that looked identical (and was on sale). That's the larger grater at the top of the photo. I'd also picked up the smaller one ('cuz it was super-cheap), and I was glad that I did.

See, you want to be careful to take off on the thinnest outer layer of zest and not get any of the pith (white stuff under the outer yellow skin). Evidently, if you get any pith in your Limoncello, it will be bitter. The bigger grater/zester thingie was good for getting wide swaths of lemon-skin off, but it was kind of difficult to control and I was afraid of hitting the pith. So the littler zester was good for doing some "fine-tuning" work and zesting the smaller sections that the wide zester missed!

End up with nekkid lemons:

The white patches were from where the bigger zester was a little too, umm, zesty!

Next, dump your vodka and lemon poopies into a large glass jar:

I used an empty 1.75 liter tequila bottle
(which I'd washed thoroughly and disinfected in the dishwasher)

At this point, there's only one bottle of vodka in the jug (the other bottle was still getting filtered thru the Brita pitcher). But I wanted to get the lemon skins in the jug with the vodka before they dried out.

Close up of my Science Project!

Next step: Well, I dumped the second bottle of vodka in the jug and shook it up good. The jug is gonna sit in my kitchen for a week (and I'll shake it up about once a day). Then it's going into the closet where it will sit and steep for 45 days.....

Hopefully I won't forget about it - but I'll post an update whenever I move onto the next step!!

So now... I've got 18 nekkid lemons!

When life hands you leftover lemons from making Limoncello...
...Make lemonade!!!

18 lemons yielded appx 4 cups of pure lemon juice. I just squoze 'em by hand, in to a large bowl (and I scooped out some of the pulp - Mmmmm!). I poured that through a sieve to remove the seeds (but I still scooped some of the pulp back into the juice). 1 cup of raw juice went into an ice cube tray (for adding to iced tea!). 3 cups went to make lemonade!

Lemonade Recipe

3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (with or without pulp - your choice!)
3 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup granulated Splenda
11 cups cold water

Make a simple syrup by mixing sugar, Splenda and 3 cups of water in a sauce pan. You might want to tweak the sugar:splenda ratio (I kinda wish I had, but that's just b/c the higher sugar content messes with my Blood Glucose #'s). Heat it on medium heat 'til all the sweetener is completely dissolved.

Pour the lemon juice into a glass jar. Add the Sugar/Splenda Syrup. Mix it up. Then add 11-12 cups of cold water (I was planning on 12 cups, but my jar holds less than a gallon!). Refrigerate and ENJOY!!!

Just shy of 1 gallon of Super-Delicious, Fresh Lemonade!

A VERY belated Limoncello update can be found here!

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