Sunday, January 11, 2009

Holiday shakedown and limoncello

Reflections from the Backcounter

The twelve days of Christmas formally ended on Jan 6. The end of the holidays also heralds the beginning of spring cleaning and clutter removal. There is something smothering about holiday decorations that remain after the holiday is over....unfortunately, if you are like me, the takedown and storage is a massive project that is always somewhat overwhelming. Every year I pledge to be more organized and to put everything away in a manner that is better than last year. With the number of pledges I have made, one would think that my holiday decor would catalogued in a system worthy of the Dewey decimal system with a card catalogue and index. I can only dream. So, as in years past, I take on the mountain of ribbon, ornaments and trees and will attempt to survive victorious in my battle to stuff the every growing number of items into the same number of rubbermaid bins.

On a positive winter citrus note, our lemon tree has produced a bountiful harvest this year. We are looking forward to trying to make a homemade batch of limoncello


Makes about 3 1/4 quarts. Those who are lucky enough to receive this homemade lemon liqueur should keep it in the freezer, where it turns a milky white after 8 to 9 hours. It can be sipped straight-up, mixed with tonic or dashed into champagne.

17 large lemons, preferably organic
Two 750-milliliter bottles grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
6 cups sugar
Wash and dry the lemons. With a paring knife, remove the ends. With a vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind, leaving the pith intact. (Squeeze juice from the lemons and reserve for another use.)
Place the lemon peel in a 4-quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol, making sure the lemon peel is completely covered. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking the jar once each day to agitate the lemon peel.
On the 13th day, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and remove from the heat, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature.
Place a colander on top of the saucepan and strain in the contents of the Mason jar. Discard the lemon peel. Stir to combine the liquids, about 1 minute. Transfer back to the Mason jar. Store for 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking to agitate the liquid twice a day.
After 3 weeks, transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers. Store bottles in freezer. Serve directly from the freezer.



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