Friday, August 1, 2014


A few weeks ago, I discovered--much to my joy and to Mark's dismay--that Under the Tuscan Sun was available on Netflix. Oh happy day! Let's face it. A movie about Tuscany, writing, renovating, Italian food, coffee, ice cream, wine, and romance. It's like a giant ball of things-Abi-squeals-about. Plus, Diane Lane's hair makes me doubt all my major life choices. Seriously, those curls. Only to be rivaled by mid-90s Julia Roberts. Yes, I have hair-crushes. What's it to ya?

Wow. We are now way off topic. Anyway.

In keeping with the spirit of the movie, I decided to try my hand at making limoncello. Lemons, grain alcohol, sugar, and water. It sounded easy enough. Surprisingly, it was!

Here's what you'll need: 

8-10 lemons
a bottle of grain alcohol
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
a vegetable peeler
a glass pitcher
a fine mesh strainer
a funnel
a stoppered glass bottle

Here's what you do:

1. Peel the lemons, being careful to get only the yellow peel and not the white pithy part. This takes a little while, with the lemons becoming surprisingly wiggly and slippy as you go. Of course, that last bit could just be me being clumsy.

2. Toss the lemon peels into your glass pitcher. Pour the grain alcohol over it.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for about four days.

4. After the four days have passed, make the simple syrup using the water and sugar. Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Once sugar has dissolved in the water, set aside and allow to cool completely.

5. Add simple syrup to lemon-alcohol mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight at room temperature.

6. The next day, strain the limoncello using the mesh strainer. Transfer to the glass bottle. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until chilled!

The glass bottles were so pretty!

What does it taste like? To me, it tastes exactly like my mom's lemon pie, in liquid form and bottled. Mark says it tastes like a lemon drop. One thing is for sure: it's sweet, rich, and worth sharing!

Typically, limoncello is consumed after a meal to aid with digestion. While this drink is made throughout Italy, the best of this lemony liqueur is apparently made in Capri, where it is allowed to sit for sometimes as long as 40 days. However, I am neither in Capri nor the least bit Italian. I simply watched a movie, thought it sounded yummy, and googled recipes until I felt I had the hang of it. So this recipe is the Southern-girl version of the Italian liqueur! If I have any Italian readers, maybe you can further enlighten me on the subject! You may even have a better method or tradition for making it. I certainly would love to hear your ideas if so!

Some yummy ways to serve limoncello can be found here and here. Personally, I'm anxious to try the blueberry-limoncello cooler--it sounds like summer in a bottle and would give me a good use for my rather-prolifically-growing mint! (Side note: apparently mint is a native Maryland plant; it is currently dominating my garden.) Now I just need to host a girl's night or dinner so I have an excuse to share this lemony goodness. Any takers?

Unexpected plus: I now have an excuse to buy those beautiful glass bottles at Home Goods and TJ Maxx. The two pictured here were each 1.99! Can't beat that! Spoiler alert for my friends: this concoction may be used as gift in your near futures.

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