Friday, February 6, 2009

want some ice cold limoncello this summer?

if you want to make your own, you must start now...it takes 80 days before it is ready. limoncello is a delicious italian liqueur...very, very lemony...traditionally served straight from the freezer. the first time my husband and i visited italy, it was june...unbearably hot...and we discovered limoncello was the perfect...cool you down...after dinner treat. needless to say, we had a lot of limoncello on that trip.fast forward many years to when we purchased our farmhouse. the first year we planted meyer lemon, lime and mandarin orange trees. wow...napa is this magical place where..."if you plant it it will grow"...our trees started producing fruit the first year...and now it is hard to keep up...so let's start with the meyer lemons which are ripe NOW!!...familiar story to regular readers...many of my "go-to" recipes are inspired by fruits, vegetables or herbs from our garden...and meyer lemon recipes are no exception. in fact, next monday and tuesday will be spent making my meyer lemon marmalade...a family/friends favorite...and this year i will be offering it for sale on our website...i have spent the past few weeks putting lemons in everything...cakes, pies, lemonade, candied peel, vinaigrette, sauces...you name it..i have juiced millions (only a slight exaggeration) and frozen for year round use..and yesterday..started this year's batch of one of our favorite traditions...limoncello...cause the memory of that first trip to italy...and the smell, taste, look of the country...stays with me...
i have been thinking a lot about italy lately..i love visiting that country...have been fortunate to have been there numerous times for business and pleasure...and living in napa is very similar in many ways...the weather, the terrain, the emphasis on fresh, local, sustainably grown food, the wine...many, many things. my husband is 100% italian, his grandparents immigrated here when they were young...i am 1/2 italian...but my family has been here forever so no italian speaking grandparents on my end...in any case, italy is very special to both of us...so for christmas this year, my husband and i did something a bit different for our gifts to each other. we decided a few years ago that we had enough "stuff"...didn't need more...and would give each other gifts of things we could do together...part of the "i am finally retired from corporate life and can be home more often" lifestyle. last year we did a series of concerts at the opera house here in napa...this year we gave each other "conversational italian" classes. our joke is that... going forward...if we have a disagreement...we can only argue in italian...gestures and all. we figure we will be laughing so hard we will forget about the argument...our first class was thursday...we had a blast...and if you will indulge me...i will practice a tiny bit in some blog posts....i seem to have a large number of regular readers from italy...so please feel free to correct me when necessary.

anyway, back to the limoncello...this recipe is easy...delicious..and will become a favorite of your family and friends too...but here is the twist...this will be an interactive recipe...let's make it together...i am encouraging everyone to give it a try...so i am only going to post a bit of the recipe at a time...the following recipe is just for the first part..make it now...it needs to infuse for 40 days...then i will post the next set of steps...it will then sit for another 40 days...then, sometime near the end of april it will be ready...just in time for all of us to share a toast to summer.

this recipe makes a lot but, trust me, never too much..and it keeps indefinitely in the freezer...makes 20 8.5 oz bottles..but you can reduce by 1/2 or even 1/4 (i wouldn't..my friends actually stop by on summer mornings, ask for a bottle..and proceed merrily on their way!)
note, i have experimented with many versions of limoncello...but i discovered this recipe a few year ago in sunset magazine and this has become my favorite...the addition of a small bit of rosemary is brilliant...thank you sunset...

meyer lemon limoncello
step 1
36 meyer lemons
two 4-in rosemary sprigs, washed and dried
2 bottles (750 ml. each) 100-proof vodka such as stolichnaya or smirnoff
2 1-gallon glass jars with a tight seal

peel lemons with citrus peeler, taking only the zest (the top layer). avoid any white pith. put a sprig of rosemary in each jar. place half of zest in one jar and remainder in second jar.

pour 1 bottle vodka over jar of rosemary and zest. repeat with second bottle of vodka over second jar of rosemary and zest. let jars sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days...

to be continued

the traditional way italians drink limoncello is straight from the freezer in a well chilled small glass...like a shot glass...some people mix with club soda or sparkling water...i say no...no... no...go for the straight version...but experiment...and i know i said "after dinner"...but you will find early afternoon, before dinner, sitting around the pool, relaxing on the porch...etc...are all really cool choices..

here's to summer...
please let me know if you decide to participate in the limoncello making party...would love to read about your experience...oh yeah...and if you ask me how i am doing today, i will say..."molto bene, grazie. e tu?" (very good..and you?)

arrivederci!
diane


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"
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21 comments:

Shawn said...

I would love to make the limoncello with you. I will have to make a small batch because my lemons will come from the store. You are very lucky to have your own trees. This will be fun!

MauiMom said...

Ahhhhh...........Limoncello. My favorite. I have been contemplating making it for years. Now this gives me incentive. But, wait! There is a huge problem. No Myer lemons in Evergreen, Colorado. So I will Google my brains out this week to try to find some around here. If I can't, I might have to use plain ordinary lemons from grocery. Yuck!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi shawn and welcome! a small batch is good too...if you use regular lemons you can make it all year...have fun and let me know how it goes..
diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi donna...welcome back! no more contemplating...make it once and you will be hooked...please let me know if you make it and what you think..40 days from now will be second step...stay tuned...

Andrea said...

Look at all those beautiful lemons! We have two bottles of limoncello and two bottles of arancello (orange) in our freezer that we made a while back, but they are going fast and we need to make more. My favorite way to enjoy it is with half & half. Tastes like an adult creamsicle. Yum!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi andrea..and welcome...the arancello sounds delicious..do you follow the limoncello recipe and just substitute orange zest?
diane

Couture Celebrations said...

I love Limoncello! I will be raiding my Mother's meyer lemon tree this coming weekend and join you!

Linda Lou said...

You bring back memories of me and my honey's 20th anniversary trip to Italy in 2007. Our first stop was Sorrento, where we tasted limoncello for the first time-we bought a few bottles, and every night we had a little glass before bed, let's just say it was a very romantic vacation! Love your blog!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome couture celebrations..happy raiding...so happy you are joining the "virtual" limoncello making party...please visit often..esp in 40 days for step 2..but come back before then...

diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi linda lou..thanks for sharing your "limoncello in italy" story. you bring back terrific memories too...thank you for your kind words regarding my blog..i took a quick peek at yours!..can't wait to visit again when i have more time...it looks terrific...i love meeting people through their blogs...
diane

LeLo said...

Well hello. I just got back from a trip south to San Diego area, and while there, hunted down organic, fresh from the grower meyer lemons so that I could try my hand at your limoncello. When I opened my luggage they were still there, along with the three pints of kumquats for some marmalade making. I love citrus, and as a native Californian, this time of year I really miss them. Thank goddess for trips like this: beach, sun, and citrus. I'll blog about my limoncello making in the coming week!

casalba said...

Oh yes, we make limoncello too, but don't have nearly the size of your crop.

Love it that you argue in Italian.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I didn't realize how long homemade limoncello needs to sit - thanks for that information. I'm crazy about rosemary and I bet that makes yours really special. I'll have to give your recipe a try. I too can't get Myer lemons in the mountains, but I'm not going to let that stop me.
Sam

betty said...

I will join the club. I plan to make your limoncello this weekend, so I will be a bit behind. The recipe seems easy and sounds delicious.
Thank you

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi lelo..welcome back twitter friend!
happy you are making the limoncello..let me know how is goes!
but can we still do our trade? :)
diane

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks sally..how different is your recipe from mine?
i am counting on you to give feedback on my struggling italian!!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

welcome sam and betty! thank you for your comments and for joining our limoncello making party. please let me know how it goes..sam..i really like the addition of the rosemary..it is subtle..but adds terrific flavor..very different from the store bought versions..

diane

LeLo said...

Of course, Diane, our trade is still on. I'm making mine with Everclear (!) since I can get that here in Oregon, so it may taste a bit different than yours. Plus, I'm holding onto that tomato jam and some Tayberry jam just for you!

TerryC said...

I have made two batches of lemoncello since before Thanksgiving so I could give it to friends for Christmas. I have the same bottle in my freezer that you show on your page, funny.
I found your blog through Beekman Mansion. I love them too ! Will be back to yours often also.

Donna said...

Hi Diane,

Well, finally got my limoncella started last week. I am making about half a batch, cause organic lemons are soooo expensive here in the mountains. Anyway, I am with you, girl. But, tell me this, if you please. I am supposed to stir this beautiful stuff about once a week......without drinking any? Are you sure I can't have some? Kinda' seems a little mean, if you ask me. (Ha, ha. Just kidding!)

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi donna...you do not need to stir... just let it sit there...and no cheating with the tasting missy!!