Glass & Bottle of Limoncello

The colour of the sunlight beckoning from outside the office window. That promise of days happily spent reclining on soft sands and evenings spent on the terracotta terrace. The glamour.

OK, so I was at the cinema watching The Great Gatsby earlier (good film; complete slaughter of the book’s subtlety) and clearly my head’s a little caught up in the whirlwind of jazz, jazz and more jazz. Oh, and a spectacular amount of product placement – although it was mainly Moët, so I’ll just about manage to get through. Jazz, champagne and wishful daydreams aside, if there was ever a drink that smacked you round the face with sunshine, then that drink must surely be limoncello. Or as my phone keeps insisting, lemon cello.

Be it a brightly coloured string instrument or a refreshing alcoholic beverage, there is a lot to be said for this (not so) humble Italian liqueur. It’s bright, it’s refreshing, it’s sweet and it tastes like heaven when served on the rocks. I’ve never had it in Italy, but I’ve had here and I think it’s fair to say that I love it. Absolutely love it.

Glass & Bottle of Limoncello

When I found that this month’s Baking with Spirit challenge (hosted by Janine over at Cake of the Week) was to be limoncello a large grin spread its way across my face and I knew what I was going to do. I had not idea of what to make; no, my head was too full with excitement as I had an excuse to make limoncello. As though I really needed an excuse.

This month has been one hectic, slightly shambolic mess, so the fact that I haven’t yet got around to tasting or photographing my (complete and utter cop out) limoncello dessert is probably not too surprising, but I’m hoping to get it done this weekend and the post might sneak in before the deadline. Just.

In the meantime, sit back, relax, grab a glass, some ice and that bottle of sunshine. Let the sun shine and the jazz play!

Glass & Bottle of Limoncello

Limoncello

This recipe is original to The Usual Saucepans in its proportions, but given its simplicity you are liable to find something similar elsewhere – any similarities are coincidental. I used Smirnoff triple filtered vodka in my limoncello (the red label one we’re all used to), but the choice of brand is yours; one word of warning though – paint stripper tastes only like paint stripper, adding lemons will only give you lemon-flavoured paint stripper. It takes a couple of weeks to flavour and this recipe makes about 1 litre. It should keep for a few months (since it’s mainly sugar and alcohol), but mine never manages more than a couple of weeks.

Ingredients

4 (unwaxed) lemons
200g caster sugar
700ml vodka
250ml luke-warm water

Directions

Zest and juice your lemons directly into 1.5 litre Kilner jar, or something similar, ensuring that you don’t get any of the white pith in (it’s just too bitter). If you get seeds in the jar it’s not an issue, it’ll be filtered further down the line.

To the juice and zest add the sugar (some people do this bit by bit over the fortnight, I just go for it straight at the beginning) and the luke-warm water. Swirl the water in jar to mix up the sugar, juice and zest – it’s very unlikely all the sugar will dissolve at this stage, don’t panic. Pour in the vodka and attach the lid. Swirl again, this time for a good couple of minutes, until the sugar dissolved.

Put the jar in a cool dark place for a fortnight so that the lemon flavour can permeate through the vodka. Swirl or shake every couple of days.

Once it is a yellow colour (the depth of the colour will depend on your lemons and vodka) and rested for two weeks take it out and give it one final shake. Line a sieve with a piece of kitchen roll and place it on top of a jug (you can use muslin for this, but the kitchen roll trick works a treat). Pour the limoncello from the jar through the sieve and into the jug. You will need to ring the kitchen roll out a bit at the end as it will absorb some of the precious liquid, just do this over the sieve in case it rips.

Pour the limoncello from the jug into a sterilised glass bottle and store in a cool, dark place until you want to use it. Serve it with plenty of ice and good company.