HISTORY OF LIMONCELLO

Typical sweet liqueur from Campania, specifically from the Amalfi coast, always made with local lemons. Practice with care a few times for best results.

{Amalfi Lemons attribution via Wikimedia Commons}

Italy Tours 2022

Buongiorno amici:

The origins of the delicious Limoncello, sweet Campania liqueur par excellence, are shrouded in legend and mystery. Neapolitans believe that in the Land of the Sirens, Zeus revealed the secret of this sweet preparation to an ordinary mortal, whose name has remained unknown.

A genuinely precious "gift"!

According to other sources, peasant fishers used to sip a glass of lemon liqueur on frigid mornings in ancient times. A legend reveals the monks' obsession with the production and consumption of the beverage in their convents. In particular, after chasing the Sirens from their territories, the Carthusian monks kept intact their good habit of sipping Limoncello. A common custom in more traditional families is to store bottles of liqueurs, such as cello, fragolino, and of course, the beloved Limoncello, for after-meal consumption.

About ten years ago, someone (owner or staff of a restaurant) had the brilliant idea of ​​putting the bottle of Limoncello in the fridge and offering it to their customers ice cold. Success was immediate, so much so that during the 1990s, the tradition of exhibiting bottles in bars began to spread, reaching the corners of the Italian Peninsula. And from the sunny shores of Capri's Island to the romantic Amalfi coast, the bright yellow liqueur appears on every dining table in restaurants and Caffe.

It was a matter of time before the Limoncello reached abroad, with the USA being one of the most voracious consumers. The traditions passed through generations make the liqueur a true elixir for the gourmand and, luckily, simple enough to make at home. There is, however, one crucial notion to remember: not all lemons taste the same, based on growing areas and territories, and the Amalfi coast grows the finest anywhere worldwide. Lemons from California or Florida are very acidic. Therefore, adding, adding, adding extra sugar turns the liqueur into an unpleasant dessert, where the sugar dominates the overall taste.

Of course, I don’t expect you to travel to Sorrento anytime soon and buy lemons, but for information purposes, I felt compelled to tell you.

Note: I noticed that a local California nursery planted an Amalfi lemon “variety.” It will take several years before we’ll get a chance to buy them through mail-order, but at least we have some hopes. For the imported Limoncello, available in stores, I suggest Luxardo, one of my all-time favorites.

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The recipe below uses domestic lemons from California.

Limoncello Recipe

Ingredients

Ten organic lemons of medium size

1 liter of alcohol (at least at 90 °) {4-1/4 cups}

1 liter of water [4-1/4 cups}

600 gr of granulated sugar {2 + 3/4 cups}

Procedure

1) Wash lemons and carefully brush the peel.

2) Peel the lemons with a sharp potato peeler using only the peel without the white (which is bitter). Take a 2 lt. Container and pour 700 cl of alcohol, the lemon peels, and leave to rest for a month in the sun and a dry place. After the month of rest, you will see that the alcohol will have turned pale yellow. Put water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat on low flame, never reaching boiling.

3) As the syrup warms up, it will thicken considerably but not brown. Let the sugar syrup cool down, pour the alcohol into the jug and add another 300 cl of alcohol. After another month of rest, take the jug, filter the alcohol (you can use a cotton cloth) to remove the lemon peel.

Bottle the Limoncello obtained and stored it in the fridge or freezer.


Thanks for reading. Eat safe! Ciao Chef W

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