We have the perfect weekend project for you that will pay you and your dinner guests dividends for months to come: homemade Limoncello (the classic Italian liqueur) and it's delicious pals Pompelmocello (grapefruit) and Arancello Rosso (blood orange). How're those for a mouthful? I like to just call them "all the -cellos."
My first experience with Limoncello was during my semester abroad in Tuscany. At the end of one meal, the owner of the restaurant proudly brought up his family's stash of Limoncello from the cellar for us to drink. It was heavenly.
To get started, you'll need some grain alcohol. We had to order ours online, and I literally felt like i was throwing a frat party. You can also use 100 proof vodka (or even 80 proof) in a pinch. Just remember that you'll likely need less sugar syrup to finish it off. And get yourself some good quality citrus fruit — organic if possible — clean the fruit well and get peeling!
Once the peels are in the booze, they'll need to steep. Here's what the mixture looked like when we first combined the the peels and the alcohol on Day 1:
Some folks allow the mixture to steep for just a few days or a week. We waited a month, and I think the result is more authentic. On the next go-round, I think I'd do a comparison, and finish off half after a week to see how it compared.
After steeping, you'll separate the booze from the fruit, strain it, and mix with simple syrup. You may need to modify the ratio of sugar to water until the taste is to your preference. We used a little more water than sugar in the end.
Check out the result! The change in color and clarity is amazing.
I highly recommend mixing up more than one kind of -cello. It makes for such a fun tasting flight amongst friends. The blood orange and the classic lemon were our favorites!
LIMONCELLO or ANY KIND OF -CELLO
INCLUDING POMPELMOCELLO OR ARANCELLO ROSSO
recipe makes 1.25 - 2 liters of liqueur
8-12 of your citrus of choice such as lemons, grapefruit, and blood oranges
1 L bottle Everclear
2-4 c sugar
Thoroughly wash the fruit, as the alcohol will absorb anything on or in the peel. Peel the fruit, avoiding as much of the pith as possible. We used a vegetable peeler. Peel enough fruit to fill a 1 liter bottle about 3/4 full. Completely cover the peels with the alcohol, and put a lid on the mixture.
Let sit for 3-4 weeks in a cool, dry place.
Strain the alcohol through coffee filters into a new container.
Make simple syrup by combining 1 part sugar and 1 part water and heating on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool, and begin adding to the booze. This is where you'll need to taste as you go. Add a little at a time and change the ratio of sugar to water as necessary. Too sweet? Use more water. In the end we used 5 cups water and 4 cups sugar per batch.
Serve per tradition — right out of the freezer!