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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Carmelina's Limoncello Recipe

In August of 2002 I went to Italy with my three daughters. We had the opportunity to visit Mirabello, a small mountain village North of Naples, in the Abruzzi-Molise area, where my Great-Grandparents, Amodio and Rose DiToro, were born and lived before coming to America. While there, we visited with newly discovered family relatives, Marina Volpacchio and her parents, Giovanni and Carmelina. At the conclusion of a five course dinner, Carmelina served her wonderful home made lemon liqueur. Because I enjoyed it so much she gave me a bottle to bring home. We have since gotten the recipe and make it often. Here is some of Carmelina's Limoncello. I hope you have as much fun making and drinking it as we do.

Ingredients
One liter of Everclear Grain Alcohol (190 proof—be sure it is a 1,
000 ml liter bottle)
10 lemons
1 ½ quarts of filtered water
3 pounds of sugar (2 cups = 1 lb)

Directions
Using a potato peeler, take all the yellow rind off of each lemon, trying to avoid getting the white, bitter pith on the thin lemon peelings. Combine the Everclear and the lemon peelings in a clean one gallon glass or plastic container. Cover and store in a dark place for one week.

At the one week mark, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a large sauce pan. Bring it to a slow simmer, and let cook for 20 minutes. (Note: the longer you simmer the syrup, the thicker it will get because only the water boils away). Next, allow this simple syrup to cool to room temperature. Do not add warm syrup to the vodka-lemon peel mixture.

Strain the lemon peels from the Everclear and combine the simple syrup and the Everclear alcohol. It is now ready to drink. This recipe yields close to four quarts. Its alcohol content is about 30%, thus it can handle being stored in the freezer. The bonus is that freezing gives it a delightful, slightly thick consistency.

Notes: This drink, made by infusing grain alcohol with the oil from lemon peels, is very popular in Southern Italy, particularly on the Amalfi coast. It is excellent splashed over vanilla ice cream or fresh strawberries. It also makes a fine martini, two or three parts vodka to one part Limoncello. Enjoy!

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