I’m not much of a cook – I leave that to the husband, who actually enjoys it (I don’t) – but there are a few things which I like to make. Ice cream is one of them, and I’ve got a batch of strawberry gelato waiting to go into the ice cream maker as we speak. There’s nothing quite like fresh berries being turned into ice cream the same day that they were picked! Another thing I enjoyed making the two times I’ve done it was limoncello, that heady and potent lemon-flavored liqueur popular throughout primarily southern Italy. It’s a fantastic summertime dessert drink and is exceptionally easy to make. I’ll include the recipe I’ve used at the bottom of this post – I got it from the woman I consider to be the mother of the Italian community in Portland, so I think it’s pretty authentic. The nice weather lately has got me thinking it’s time to make another batch.
The other thing that got me thinking about the goodness of lemons was this article about two different kinds of lemons – Amalfitano and Siciliano. The former is from the Amalfi Coast and the latter, not surprisingly, is from Sicily. I’m not sure I’d be able to tell a difference, but maybe if I spent enough time around them I would. At any rate, there’s a recipe for a lemon pasta on that page which I might have to convince the husband to try, if for no other reason than we’re going to have to figure out something to do with all the lemons we’ll have lying around if I make limoncello.
>> Be sure to check out this limoncello recipe in pictures, too!
>> And for more Italian recipes, look at these Italian classic dishes you can make at home!
Limoncello di Lucia
- 750 ml bottle of grain alcohol
- 7 or 8 large lemons (make sure they’re organic and not sprayed, you’re using the peel!)
- 5 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- Wash the lemons thoroughly – scrub them clean of all residue.
- Using a peeler, take off the skins being careful not to get any of the white lemon “pith” onto your peelings or it will add bitterness to your limoncello.
- Put the peels into a large, open-mouth jar with the alcohol and seal the lid tightly. Put the date on the bottle.
- Put the jar in a cool, dry place for one week – once a day, shake the contents well to remix everything. You’ll notice the color of the liquid changing to yellow and the color of the lemon peels fading.
- One week later, dissolve the sugar completely in water by heating it on the stove. Then cool the sugar-water mixture to room temperature.
- Strain the lemon peels out of the alcohol and then mix the alcohol with the sugar-water. Usually the color of the alcohol changes from clear yellow to cloudy yellow when it’s combined with the sugar-water.
- Pour the mixture into bottles which can be sealed tightly and store them in the freezer. If the limoncello is kept “frozen” until serving it becomes thick and syrupy.
These make great gifts; just get some small, pretty bottles and label them yourself and you’ve got a great taste of Italy to hand out to friends and family. And the homemade stuff is much better than anything you’d buy in a store. I’ve not tried this yet, but this same recipe can be used with any citrus fruit – orange, lime, grapefruit, etc.