Saturday was the official start of winter in New Zealand. Much like the UK, the weather here doesn’t pay any attention to official seasons. Winter actually arrived last Tuesday, in all its tempestuous powercut-inducing glory (and really we were fairly lucky – a fair proportion of the rest of the country found themselves covered in snow). On our first official day of winter, however, I spent the whole morning sitting out on the deck in the glorious sunshine, topping up my vitamin D reserves.
Ya, that’s what the official start to winter looked like in Leigh, and we were lucky to be treated to similar weather the entire long weekend. I sometimes still can’t quite believe that I live here. Anyway, before you all turn away from your computer screens in disgust or hatred, I’ll reassure you that today we’ve been treated to a good dose of horizontal rain, a severe weather advisory and multiple powercuts. So I think that this is a suitably winter-like day to share that homemade limoncello recipe that I mentioned in my limoncello cupcakes post. Lemons brighten everything up, and I like to think of limoncello as liquid sunshine. Alcoholic liquid sunshine. Very drinkable alcoholic sunshine that doesn’t taste alcoholic. Oh dear.
I started making my own limoncello about two and a half years ago. I wanted to try limoncello, but couldn’t find any to buy, so I looked up some recipes. I picked the one that only required an overnight maceration instead of two weeks (because I’m impatient like that) and it turned out so scrumptious that I’ve yet to get around to trying out one of the recipes that take a little longer. I’ll report back on the comparison when I eventually do, but in the meantime, this is a pretty handy sort-of last-minute drinks recipe to have up your sleeve. I’ve actually never tried “real” limoncello, so I can’t tell you how this measures up to the stuff you’d drink in Italy. I can, however, tell you that it’s bloody delicious, and super lemony. Any time I’ve pulled out a bottle for friends, it has disappeared fairly promptly, which can only be a good sign…
Makes about 400ml
Slightly adapted from Waitrose
To sterilise the glass bottle, wash in hot, soapy water and pop in an oven pre-heated to 100°C for about ten mins or so, until dry. Allow to cool before pouring the limoncello in. Don’t use your super expensive special edition boutique vodka, but don’t use supermarket own-label vodka either – paint-stripper will always just taste of paint-stripper, no matter how many lemons you add. I just used standard Smirnoff. I love limoncello served straight over ice, but you can also serve it as a long drink, topped up with soda water. Sometimes I’ll store the limoncello in the freezer for a day or so so that it goes a bit slushy. I recommend trying that, too! This should keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, although it’s unlikely to last even close to that long.
7-8 unwaxed lemons
125g caster sugar (granulated works fine, too)
1. Wash the lemons. Zest and juice them into a large bowl (ideally not plastic – glass, pyrex or ceramic are all good choices if you have them). Add the sugar, stir, and cover with clingfilm. Leave to stand for about 12h or overnight, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has all dissolved.
2. Strain the lemon mixture through either a very fine sieve, a muslin cloth or a normal sieve lined with kitchen roll. Squeeze as much juice through as possible. Stir in the vodka and decant into a sterilised glass bottle, ready to serve.
Enjoy! (Whilst drinking responsibly and all that jazz…)
Since it’s homemade and all, I’m submitting this limoncello recipe to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior (I’m guessing it’s ok that I haven’t made my own vodka…).