My friend Susan just returned from a month-long trip to the Mediterranean with a wonderful sojourn through Italy. There, she tasted limoncello for the first time; and I vicariously relived my first taste of limoncello. Icy cold liquid sunshine. Perfect for our too-warm Mexican evenings. As if to urge us along, lucious yellow lemons are in the markets now. Let’s make some! Could we wait the three to six months for it to be ready? Well, . . .no! Here is the recipe I devised for Impatient Limoncello; a short-cut version for impatient folks. Keep the limoncello in your freezer, ready to Enjoy! Serve limoncello straight up or over ice, the traditional way; or my favorite for warm weather – limoncello tonic: 2 oz limoncello on ice with 8 – 10 oz tonic water.
Using lemon infused Jarabe produces a limoncello that is ready to use in less than a week! No waiting for the mellowing process.
8 – 10 lemons, washed
750ml Vodka - I use 80 proof, but you can use 100 proof or Everclear
250ml Jarabe or simple syrup*
Zest lemons with a lemon zester. This gives thin strands of lemon peel with no pith. You can use a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the white pith, but the small strands from a zester allow quicker infusion of lemon oils and extracts into the alcohol. (Reserve lemons for another use–make lemonade, lemon pie or lemon curd!!)
Put 2/3 of the zest into a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and add 750 mls vodka. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 3–4 days. Stir or gently shake the jar each day. (The higher the proof of the alcohol, the faster the essence of the lemon will be extracted.)
Put Jarabe in non-reactive sauce pan and add the remaining lemon zest. Bring to just boiling over medium heat; adjust heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Cool. Put in glass jar with lid and store in refrigerator.
When vodka-lemon zest mixture is ready, add Jarabe-lemon zest mixture; stir. Let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours. Adjust the sugar content to your taste, adding a little more jarabe or vodka. Strain through seive; filter if you prefer a more clear limoncello. Save the zest for other uses. Pour into a decanter or other bottle, using a funnel. I re-use the vodka bottle or a clean screw-top wine bottle. Store in the freezer.
*Jarabe is a commercially bottled simple syrup available in Mexico and some US and Canadian markets. Substitute a simple syrup made of 1 part sugar to 2 parts water, bring just to a boil to dissolve sugars and proceed.