When Life Gives you Lemons … Bonus Round

From the When Life Gives You Lemons … Drink Limoncello Series.

Part 6: When Life Gives You Lemons … Make Lemon Curd from the Leftover Limoncello Lemons.

or How to Make Lemon Curd.

You thought I was done with the whole lemon thing, didn’t you?  Well, honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be done with the lemon thing.  There is just so much to love about lemons. But I thought to add one more Bonus Round to the series.

If you do decide to make your own limoncello (and I hope you do) you may find yourself with a mountain of naked lemons.  Lemons that you took much time and care to grow and nurture only to find that it was just their peels that was needed to make the, admittedly awesome, limoncello I’ve been rabbiting on about for so long.  Such a waste to not have a purpose for the rest of the lemons, right?  Again, you can go back to squeezing lemon juice over everything in sight (lemon juice is great as a cleaning product, too.  Here are 24 Things You Can Clean With Lemon) but my favourite thing to do is to turn them in to lemon curd.

Naked lemons.  Kinda sad, right?  (pic from oddlovescompany.com)

Naked lemons. Kinda sad, right?
(pic from oddlovescompany.com)

Ina Garten has a great recipe here but I feel there is a lot of equipment I have to wash up once done (food processor, saucepans, extra mixing bowls).   I’d rather take the easy way out and do it all in one bowl in the microwave.  I’m afraid I wrote this recipe down from a library book and have lost the citation.  Let me know what it is if you happen to know it.

Lemon Curd – Microwave

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from 6-8 lemons)
  • 3 lemons, zested
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted.

Directions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice, zest, and butter.
  2. Cook in microwave for 1 minute intervals, stirring after each minute until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from microwave and pour in to small sterile jars.  Store for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

    Delicious Lemon Curd - one of my favourite things ever

    Delicious Lemon Curd – one of my favourite things ever. (pic from Liren@KitchenConfidante.com)

I’ve never had it last longer than 3 weeks because it has all been eaten up so fast but I would imagine it would keep like any other butter product, even longer in the freezer.  It is heavenly on crepes and toast, in tarts and jelly rolls, between mini merigues topped with softly whipped heavy cream, or as a filling for lemon bars.  So many uses!  But for me, I find it most delicious when eaten straight from the jar with a spoon.  Yum!  Another great gift for those you love.  Make some lemon curd.  I promise you, you won’t regret it.

When Life Gives You Lemons … Drink Limoncello

From the When Life Gives You Lemons… Series

Part 5: When Life Gives You Lemons … Drink Limoncello

or How to Make Your Own Limoncello

Finally, we are here at the good bit!  Now that you have successfully grown bushels and bushels of beautiful lemons what are you going to do with them all?

Lovely lemons in a basket

Lovely lemons in a basket

Quite the high class problem, I’ll admit.  Of course there are myriad options when it comes to using lemons as they are just so versatile.  Lemon chicken, lemon meringue pie, lemon curd (a favourite of mine), salmon with lemon, capers and rosemary, spicy lemon garlic shrimp … the list goes on and on.  But my favourite thing to do with lots of lemons, particularly Meyer Lemons, is to make Limoncello.

Limoncello di Capri.   'Nuf said.

Limoncello di Capri.  ‘Nuf said.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquour produced mainly in Southern Italy but particularly in the area around the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.  It is made by steeping the lemon peels in alcohol for quite a long time, then mixing the resultant yellow liquid with a simple syrup made from sugar and water.  It is traditionally served ice cold as an after dinner digestif and is quite simply, heavenly.

There were stores everywhere in Capri selling Limoncello, stores literally packed to the rafters with the sweet little bottles.  Clearly, some were more tourist cliche than Southern Italian chic but charming none the less.

Tourist cliche

Tourist cliche

Limoncello for sale

Limoncello for sale in Capri

Quick Quiz: What is my favourite way to enjoy limoncello?

Is it –

  1. Ice cold straight from the freezer?
  2. Mixed with ice and soda?
  3. Drizzled over vanilla icecream or lemon sorbet and fresh strawberries?  or
  4. All of the above?

That’s right!  All of the above.  You’ve gotta try it.

OK, recipe time.  I like to use Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe here.  She has a bunch of videos on how to make it, too, so you can’t go wrong.  It is so simple.

Limoncello Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 10 lemons (unwaxed, organic. Meyer lemons are best)
  • 1 (750ml) bottle vodka
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (white sugar)

Directions

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use – maybe lemon curd).  Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith.  Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher.  Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap.  Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture.  Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.  Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer.  Discard the peels.  Transfer the limoncello to bottles.  Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.

Enjoy!

NB: I store my bottles of limoncello in the freezer.  They last forever in there, it seems.

Homemade limoncello - this is Giada's version

Homemade limoncello – this is Giada’s version

I love to make this for gifts as they present so very well.  A pretty bottle, a pretty label and a pretty swingtag with some suggested uses makes a perfect gift.  I like to use the tall glass bottles with the stoppers at the top, like these from World Market.

Perfect glass bottles for Limoncello

Perfect glass bottles for Limoncello

Now, what if you want to make the BEST Limoncello?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  While researching this post I came across another technique I’m dying to try used by Franny’s in Brooklyn.  The tutorial is irresistably entitled “How to Make the Best Limoncello You’ve Ever Had” – they’ve totally suckered me in.  Here, instead of peeling the lemons and steeping the peels in the alcohol, they suspend 2 whole lemons in cheesecloth above the vodka allowing the alcohol vapours to macerate the lemons to extract their oils without the bitterness of the pith.

Lemons suspended over the vodka to make limoncello.

Lemons suspended over the vodka to make limoncello at Franny’s.

Compelling, no?  Apparently, this is an old Sicilian technique.  I’m totally gonna try it.  Maybe I’ll do both versions and do a side-by-side blind tasting.  Sounds fun, right?  Wanna come to my house for a When Life Gives You Lemons … Drink Limoncello soiree?  I should make this an annual summer event.

The End of the Series

And thus concludes my When Life Gives You Lemons… series.  So, Dear Readers, what did you think?  Did you stick with me through the whole thing?  I really hope you have enjoyed the process as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you.  I also hope you might try growing your own citrus and making your own limoncello!  I, for one, am looking forward to trying the new limoncello technique sometime soon.  Do let me know how your lemon adventures go!