When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives you lemons, you should make your self some damn limoncello.  I’ve been on  a kick lately, researching what other culinary goodness I can create with my Anova sous vide.  Turns out I can make tasty, boozey concotions, so please take a quick trip with me.

Limoncello is a lemon and grain alcohol based digestivo of Italian genesis.  It’s pretty sweet, but not cloyingly so.  This recipe turned out to be more of a “fresh” sweet though, if that helps.

I’ve made it before, using a traditional recipe, but it takes about a month or so do to it right.  Using a sous vide gets the job done a couple hours and – Ka-Pow! –  you’re drinking high-brow, artisanal, hipster hooch.

Step 1: Go to your local Quicky Mart and gather 10 lemons, 1.5 c. confectioners sugar, 1 L cheap vodka


Step 2: Zest those citrously little gems.  I like to use organic lemons, because I’m under the impression that the zest has less crap in/on it.  But as I type this, I don’t know that for a scientific fact.  In this case, the organic ones were about the same price as conventional, so I didn’t mind.  If you buy organic citrus out of season or at some other inopportune time, be prepared to get schooled in the laws of supply and demand, economics, capitalism, etc.

One other thing.  “Zest” is just the fancy, flavorful, outside most layer of a citrus fruit.  I use a sharp peeler, but if you had a single purpose zester, you could use that as well.  You could also use a micro plane grater, but either of the last two options are going to take you forever.  Just remember not to remove any of the pith as you zest.  The pith is the bitter white crap that is hiding just under the essential oil filled zest.  Repeat after me: zest is good, pith is not so good.

 Step 3: Combine the zest and booze in a bag, and put the sous vide that you’ve prepared at 135F for 2 hours.  I used a vacum sealer, becase I’m a food nerd.  A ziploc bag works just as well, but you’ll have to clip it to the side of the pot to prevent it from leaking.  This is where you take a moment, make yourself Pimm’s cup with a slice of one of the leftover lemons.

Speaking of all those lemons, you want to deal with them now while you’re already making a mess in the kitchen.  I juiced this batch with my bad ass bartender-style juicer and had enough to almost fill a silicone ice tray.  I wrapped the cubes individually in cling film after they froze and threw them all in a freezer bag to use in recipes later.

Step 4: Make simple syrup.  Dump the sugar into the water and heat until it’s completely dissolved.  You can read about the chemistry here if you’d like.  It’s called “simple” syrup for a reason.  Don’t over think it.

Step 5: After 2 hours, pull it out of the sous vide, strain the solids from the booze, mix the sweet with the boozy, put in the freezer to chill for a bit, and enjoy with your pinkie out after your next Florentine meal!     

 This was my first experiment with this recipe – you can find the original here – and I brought the Limoncello with me to Easter dinner at a friend’s place.  Everyone seemed to like it, even the guys.  It was “not too sweet” compared to other Lemoncello they had tried, and I thought it had a slightly grassy or green undertone.  Not a bad flavor though, more of a “fresh” taste.

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