June 25, 2012

LIMONCELLO ON CAPRI


On a hot summer day, who doesn't crave a cocktail that is cold, fresh, and lemony? Well, it is damned hot here in Capri, and this island is covered with hearty citrus dripping with huge lemons so Limoncello it is!


Capri dons its fair share of sunburned tourists, mega yachts, bejeweled sandals, and bad dance music blasting into the night. Beneath the glitz, there is a heartwarming undercurrent of luscious gardens producing not decorative flowers to please the tourists, but loads of happy fruits and veggies. If you step away from the piazzetta and wander the narrow walking paths, you find nestled amongst the hotels and luxury villas humble, country-style gardens bursting with food - kiwis, squash, grapes, tomatoes, green beans, arugula, figs, rosemary, kumquats, olives. Glamour isn't the only priority on Capri, clearly the folks here care about the homegrown food as well. I dig that.


I wanted to share a little taste of the island with you guys and many claim that Limoncello finds its origins on Capri. The chilled sweet citrusy liquor is a nice end to dinner on a summer's evening. It takes a bit of patience to make your own (curing takes 2-4 weeks), but I think it's worth the wait.

Note: Use organic lemons, if you can. The drink gets its flavor not from the juice of the lemon, but from its peel, and that's where most of the pesticides reside in non-organic lemons.



INGREDIENTS adapted from "Lemon Zest" by Lori Longbotham featured in the NY Times
(printable recipe)
  • 6 lemons (Sorrento Lemons are used in Italy. Meyers are a nice American substitute.)
  • 1 750 ml bottle vodka
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
Wash all lemons. Use a vegetable peeler to peel each lemon (try to avoid getting much pith, the white underbelly of the peel). Place the peels in a jar large enough to hold both the peels and the entire bottle of vodka. Cover peels with the vodka. Cover the jar and place in a cool spot for 2 weeks allowing the vodka to become infused with the lemon flavor. (Use the now-peeled lemons to make a nice lemonade to enjoy right now, because your Limoncello will take a while to cure.)

After two weeks of curing, make a simple syrup by combining 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved. Set aside simple syrup until cool. In the meantime, strain lemon peels from the vodka and discard the peels. When the simple syrup has cooled, add it to the lemony vodka. Cover again and let cure for at least another 5 days and up to two weeks before drinking. If you can remember, agitate the bottle once a day.

Keep your liquor in the freezer so that it's nice and cold whenever you are ready to serve it up.

Do you make your own Limoncello? P recently made Limoncello at home in Berkeley. It was delicious, but a little too sweet and without enough of a kick for me. We have yet to make this NY Times recipe, but it looks pretty darned good. When we get home, we'll experiment with some new batches. Maybe add some herbs. If you have any delicious tips to share with the rest of us, we'd love to hear...


75 comments:

  1. A wonderful place and divine drink!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    Replies
    1. Rosa, have you been to Capri? This is our first time.
      xo
      E

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  2. I've made my own limoncello at home, and my advice is to use the 95% pure alcohol instead of vodka if you can get some (in Italy it's available in every supermarket) since it extracts all the essential lemon oil from the peels much bettter. you need to add a bit more sugar in that case.

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    1. Dajana, Thank you so much for this great advice! The 95% alcohol sounds like it could do the trick. I like the flavor to be intense. Yum!
      xo
      E

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  3. My parents have a house in italy and their neighbours once gave them a bottle of homemade limoncello. Sadly they weren't as talented cooks/drink makers as you, and apparently it tasted so synthetic and disgusting that my Dad threw the whole bottle away. The neighbours then came round a couple of days later, saw the empty bottle and forced another 2 on him thinking he'd loved it so much that he'd drunk it all!

    Your version looks much more delicious, and your photos are simply stunning :-)

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    1. thelittleloaf, What a story! Your poor parents.
      What I love about limoncello is the fresh lemon flavor with no fake stuff. Maybe worth another try;)
      xo
      E

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  4. All the food on that island is a dream. Love the figs too. I think to get that real lemon kick, I wouldn't use Meyer lemons, just regular lemons. This is something I want to try because you get two different beverages (lemonade for kiddies).

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    1. Angela, interesting idea about not using Meyers. I have heard that they work well from other food-lovers, but maybe I'll try both regular and Meyers lemons the next go around. I want to perfect the recipe. Yum!
      xo
      E

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  5. Oh Erin, everything is so beautiful, and it brings up such vivid memories of my own:) I stayed with my mum in both Sorrento, and on the nearby island of Procida. Such beautiful scenery, lively people, and massive football-esque lemons! We were there over Easter, and were lucky enough to witness a powerful and somewhat frightening Easter parade. What. A. Place.

    I've long meant to make my own limoncello, but just haven't done it yet. I hope you and your family are enjoying your vacation!

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    1. Thanks so much Emma!
      I've never been to Sorrento or Procida, but I can imagine the landscape (and food) must be amazing!
      The lemons here are crazy big. Football sized indeed;)
      xo
      E

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  6. I make my limoncello with grain alcohol. I use a large jar with wide mouth and plenty of head room above the alcohol, then I place the lemons in cheese cloth and hang them above the alcohol cover the jar and wait. Looks awesome in the curing state and taste wonderful!

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    1. Oh Leslie, that sounds beautiful! I am loving all of the juicy feedback about making Limoncello.
      Is there a certain kind of grain alcohol you like?
      Thanks so much:)
      E

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  7. Lucky girl! I love Capri, actually everywhere I've been in Italy, and would love to go back someday. Limoncello is divine!

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    1. Candy, this is my first time to Capri and my first trip to Italy in nearly 20 years. It's such fun to be back. There's nothing like a trip across the globe to mix things up a bit!

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  8. We've had a week of temps above 100 degrees here in Colorado, and the homemade limoncello sounds like a great idea!

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    1. Oh I just heard about your heat wave in Colorado. Yikes. I hope you are staying cool somehow. It's in the 90s here but that last 10+ degrees takes it from hot to scorching.

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  9. Erin, I have always used Graves. That's easy to get here on the East Coast of USA. Never thought to look for another brand .... I just might have to see if there's a difference.

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    1. Thanks Leslie, I don't think I've ever bought grain alcohol. I'm always game to try something new. Much appreciated tip:)!

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  10. Stunning photos, Erin. I'm not sure I've ever tried limoncello but it sounds amazing.

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    1. Thanks so much Kathryne! I hope you'll try Limoncello someday. If you are a lemon-lover like I am, it is quite a treat.

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  11. This sounds like so much fun! I have been into infused vodka this year, the lemon sounds so refreshing! Have a fun rest of your trip!

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    1. Jane, what kinds of infused vodkas are you making? I love this idea of homemade liquors!

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  12. Love Limoncello. Add some sparkling water and drop some berries.. absolute yum on a sunny day :)
    Never made it at home but now I am tempted!

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    1. Hey there Kankana, sparkling water and berries... that sounds delish!
      xo
      E

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  13. Love the pictures! What a wonderful drink for this time of year, a great kick off. I had never heard of Meyer lemons until Martha Stewart brought it forward... the other is more....how can I say....Italian? My Aunt is from Sicily. For those of you who can't eat or drink corn for allergies and can't have regular distilled Vodka, try a potato based vodka http://vodka.findthebest.com/d/d/Potato and have a good time.

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    Replies
    1. Oli, thanks so much for the link to the potato vodka site.

      I hate to talk about citrus with you? Is there ever a chance you'll be able to tolerate the stuff? Meyers are a delight if you ever are able.

      xo
      E

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  14. such a wonderful place to kick off your summer travels :)

    gorgeous photos, can't wait to see more!

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    1. Thanks Monika! It's so fun to be in a new place. The people watching is amazing and the food is damned good.
      Hope you are well xxoo
      E

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  15. how lovely! i don't drink alcohol anymore but i remember limoncello fondly from when i did!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel that way about wheat. Here in Italy all of my friends are eating delicious pizza and I'm living vicariously. You can almost taste the good stuff you remember but can no longer indulge in, can't you?

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  16. OMGosh. So beautiful. And your pictures from Capri look absolutely stunning. Wish I was there!

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    1. Adrianna, I think you'd love it. All the glitz, glam and people watching is so fun!

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  17. I have a jar of homemade limoncello in my cabinet right now! Your recipe looks about identical to mine. I think maybe it's time to mix it with sparkling water and halved cherries for long, lazy summer afternoon drinks, don't you?

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    1. Ellen, Yes. Go for it! And cherries would be such a good addition. I had lemonade with whole cherries in it and loved it. Cannot imagine that the combo with Limoncello wouldn't be awesome.

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  18. I, too, have a beautiful sleek little jar of limoncello that I bought in Italy a few years back. I loved the two little skinny jars and the beautiful tags on them. Have a wonderful time on Capri. This is the second blog post on Capri that I have read this week!

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  19. UstabahippieJune 25, 2012

    Hi Erin,
    I have a bottle of limoncello that my sister-in-law in Vermont made from Meyer lemons that I brought her from Berkeley. It's too sweet and not lemony enough. I think I'd use regular lemons if I were to try it myself. Meyer lemons are great for too many other things to waste them on limoncello!!

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    1. Ustabahippie, Nice to hear from you:)
      We had the same issue with our batch of Limoncello. I am learning so much from all of this great feedback. I'm looking forward to more experimenting when we get back to Berkeley. Doesn't Carolyn's idea of Buddha Hand Limoncello sound delish?

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    2. UstabahippieJune 26, 2012

      I love the idea of using different kinds of lemons. I saw some really lumpy, ugly lemons at the farmer's market today, and thought of limoncello. I need to think of a good way to use up the bottle that I have. Maybe limoncello panna cotta!

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    3. The lemons here are super ugly and lumpy and they seem to be perfect for Limoncello.
      Limoncello pannna cotta sounds great! I also keep thinking of sorbets, ice creams and granita with Limoncello.

      Delete
  20. Love limoncello. I made my own Buddha-cello awhile back. (From Buddha's Hand citrus). Great stuff over ice on a hot, sultry day. ;)

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    1. Carolyn,OMG I LOVE your Buddha-cello idea! Brilliant!!! What kind of alcohol do you use? Vodka? Grain?

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  21. Really gorgeous photos! Looks like you are enjoying your vacay :)

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    1. Renee, Vacay being fully enjoyed over here;)

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  22. Really love homemade limoncello, it's so easy to do. With Meyer lemons, what a lovely idea, I'll keep that in mind!

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    1. And Carolyn's idea of Buddha Hand Limoncello sounds awesome too. So many great possibilities for homemade liquors.

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  23. Gosh, I'd love to visit Capri! I love hearing all about your travels. I'm such a homebody, I'm lucky if I make it out of the house! Maybe in a few more years...I've never made a really good limoncello, but dang if I'll keep trying. I've heard many of the comments made here (don't use Meyers, use grain alcohol, etc.) but can't offer my first hand opinion. I should just give up, because surely the best way to make limoncello is with fruit that is local, and that's not happening in my neck o' the woods!

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    1. Hey there Julia. So nice to hear from you! True about local goodies making the best flavors. You guys may not have citrus, but I know you are always up to some sort of delicious local preserving:)

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  24. hi Erin
    Thanks for the limoncello on capri recipe.
    I'll create one for sure, my dad are gonna like it :)
    If you don't mind, can you submit your limoncello on capri photo in http://www.foodporn.net ?
    It's a food photography site full of all DIY food pictures from members around the world. submit by yourself and let me know when you did, so I can share it.

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  25. I need to visit Capri. Defintely. It looks so gorgeous in your lovely pictures! And what better way to celebrate summer than with a limoncello? Great idea to make it yourself!

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    1. Denise, It has been nearly 20 years since I've been to Italy and it feels great to be back. The people are amazingly nice here and there's plenty of good stuff to eat and drink;)

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  26. I've made my own limoncello from homegrown Meyer lemons once. Since then, my tree hasn't produced enough lemons in one year. So to make it I've had to add store-bought lemons too. Love it. Although, I'd much rather visit Capri and enjoy the limoncello there!

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    1. Lisa, did you use grain alcohol or vodka? I'm determined to make a good batch when we get home.
      I hope all is well with you.xoE

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  27. Your photos make me want to hop on a plane right now!

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  28. ahhh...beautiful pics!
    sarah @ two tarts

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  29. Very refreshing n beautiful clicks

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    1. Akila, wish I could share a sip with all of you:)

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  30. Loving your highlights of Capri - so want to go there. Since it is super hot there during the summer, might opt for later or earlier. Love limoncello. Made it one year and gave away as gifts. Used simple vodka and really great lemons. Super easy to make! Enjoy your holiday get-a-way!

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    1. Lisa, it was SO hot on Capri. Somehow I didn't get the memo on that one. I've heard that September and October are the ideal time for Capri. I think that's so true of much of Europe. Not possible for my teacher husband or the kids. Summertime it is for us and I really cannot complain!

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  31. So beautiful! I love the photos of the sea and the figs!

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    1. Thanks Jillian. The figs were my favorite bite on the island. Heaven!

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  32. Gorgeous photos Erin! I'd love to go to Capri, it looks so beautiful as do those figs. I love limoncello on a hot summers day. I still haven't got around to making my own though.

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    1. Hey there Jennifer, you should try making your own batch. It really is easy - just takes some patience. You could make some now and have it ready for your hotter days to come. ox E

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  33. I loved Capri. One of my favorite cities in Italia. Aside from the beautiful yellow glow there, the roaming cats were also fun to see. I cheated and purchased a bottle of Limoncello instead of making my own. But I've always wanted to try, sounds easy!

    Christina

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    1. Christina Marie, We liked the happy kitties too. And that Capri light was stunning. And the cliffs - wow!

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    2. I found that their colorful hills created the best landscape for stunning photos. :)

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  34. When I hear "Capri" I remember the bus ride between Capri and Anacapri. I couldn't fully enjoy the out of this world view because I kept my eyes closed almost the whole time, praying.
    Anyway, paradise on earth!

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    1. Anna, my husband was the same way on that passage along the cliff! I thought he might pass out with terror. But Anacapri was worth it. I really appreciated how sleepy that side of the island was compared with the main square.

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  35. I've never tried making my own before but I have tried a few other infused vodka and gin flavors. They always turn out great!

    Beautiful photos, that place looks amazing

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    1. Stephanie, I'm so into infused liquors. So many fun possibilities, right?
      xxoo
      E

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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