Monday, April 02, 2007
My lemon tree is still fruiting although what's left on the tree is overblown from having been on the tree too long. The fruit is huge, juicy and somewhat mutant. My photo sucks but do you know how hard it is to hold something in your palm and then try and take a photo one handed? I think perhaps my lemon tree may have had a liaison with a grapefruit tree somewhere in its history.
I have no idea what variety it is but I think it's probably a Meyer as the lemons are extremely juicy but not as acidic as a Lisbon. Food Reference tells us this...The Meyer Lemon (Citrus meyeri) is thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. They are thought to have originated in China about 400 years ago. The Meyer Lemon was introduced to the U.S. from China by Frank Meyer in 1908. Meyer lemons look like a large orange, with a very soft edible skin. They are sweet, juicy and fragrant, and are excellent in vinaigrettes and sauces, or sliced skin and all in salads.
I made some lemon curd but the egginess (eggyness?) of the flavour icked me out just a tad. So what else can you do with an abundance of lemons? Most cake recipes don't use enough lemon juice to make a dent in my supply and I don't have room in my freezer for juice anyway. The warm weather this summer made me dream of lolling about beside the pool with a nice cold drink and I thought Eureka! - Limoncello I guess in my case that should be Meyer! - Limoncello.
Limoncello has long been a staple in the lemon-producing region along the Italian Amalfi Coast in Capri and Sorrento. The Amalfi Coast is known for its citrus groves and narrow winding roads. There are a number of New Zealand producers of limoncello and I have a bottle of Vin Alto in my cellar. A bad limoncello tastes like rocket fuel - or at least what I imagine rocket fuel might taste like. Lemon Z make theirs from Yen Ben lemons and spring water. Bella Verde use Villa Franca lemons. Check out their recipes including one for limoncello fudge - can you say mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? There's also VinAlto and they have a few nice sounding recipes too.
Source of recipe forgotten - oops!
2 (750-ml) bottles of 100-proof vodka, divided (see note below)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Makes about 9 1/4 cups limoncello
Total time: 30 minutes, plus at least 3 weeks infusing time
Remove the yellow part of the lemon peel with a sharp peeler or fine grater, carefully avoiding the bitter white pith. If any pith remains on the back of a strip of peel, scrape it off
Put the yellow peels in a jar or bottle, add 1 bottle vodka and seal tightly
Leave the bottle to steep until the peels lose their color, at least two weeks (I left mine a month)
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and boil until it turns clear
Let the syrup cool
Strain the vodka from the peels and mix it with the remaining bottle of vodka and the syrup
Put the liqueur in bottles, seal tightly and let the components marry for at least 1 week before using
For drinking straight, store the limoncello in the freezer
Note: My liquor store salesperson told me not to waste my money on high end vodka (like Absolut or NZ's 42 Below) for making limoncello and I took his advice and bought something mid range.
Cuisine magazine offers some great suggestions for using limoncello including a fabulous dessert recipe by Julie le Clerc for limoncello roll with lemon conserve.