For the last ten years I have been a bit of a scrooge during the holidays. I find Christmas to be far too commercialized and hated being forced to go buy presents for people that they really didn't want. I think it's a waste of money, and that time of year should be about being close with the ones you love and having a special time.
The food and drinks are also a huge part of that for me. ;) Jon and I have decided we wanted to make all our holiday gifts and we will give them to the people we love rather than going out and blowing through our bank account. Most of the things we are giving away are going to be a surprise so I can't write about them yet, but I decided to write about my recipe for how to make homemade limoncello.
I wanted to experiment with a few different recipes I found online, but in the end I used one that I made up myself because it came out the best. My recipe takes months for aging, giving you the best tasting limoncello I have ever had.
I can't recall ever finding a person who didn't think this stuff was a great chilled sipping drink. As you can also see in my photo above, I bottled mine in these really cool 375ml bottles I found online. I topped them off with corks that you can also buy online. When it comes time to give them away I am going to wrap the tops in some cloth and ribbons or something equally as festive. You can get creative and do it however you like.
To start off you need to buy 10 - 15 organic lemons. They have to be organic otherwise you will end up with wax and pesticides in your final product and that's disgusting and toxic. If you have access to EverClear then you should buy a bottle of that as your base. EverClear is illegal in many states because it is extremely strong alcohol and could kill you if you drank it straight.
I know somebody who burned their entire esophagus just from taking a shot, so I would not recommend it. If you can't find EverClear then you should use the strongest vodka you can find, or any other grain alcohol that is over 100 proof. For some of my tests I zested the peel from the lemon, and in others I peeled them.
I found that the peeling is best and offers a more "lemony" final product. All you need to do is peel all your lemons while being very careful not to get any of the white pulp from under the yellow skin. Adding that to your alcohol will cause the mixture to get bitter. When all your lemons are peeled, pour a little of the alcohol out and add the lemon skins.
Cap the bottle and place it in your basement or a dark cabinet to infuse. You can shake the bottle ever few days if you'd like to help speed up the process. I let mine sit for almost 2 months, after which I drained out all the lemon alcohol into another bowl by filtering it through a handkerchief. This helps ensure that the liquid is free from any particles that came off of the lemon peels.
At this point I like to wrap the bowl with plastic so that none of the alcohol evaporates. Now you need to make a simple syrup solution to combine with the alcohol. For every 750ml bottle of EverClear you use to make your limoncello, you will add 6 cups purified water with 2 1/2 cups white sugar.
To make this syrup, heat the water to a slow boil and then add the sugar. Turn off the heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the syrup is cool you can add it to your alcohol and stir to combine. Once you find the bottles you want to store the limoncello in, simply pour it right in with a funnel and then cap or cork it.
It's real easy to do, and delicious! I like to let mine sit for another week before giving it away or drinking it so that it has time to combine. This is one of the best homemade gifts you can give for the holidays and everyone will love it. Don't forget to keep it in the freezer for a few hours before you serve it. Enjoy!