So, I made Limoncello
So, I made limoncello. I’m not sure why, really – I’ve never been into sweet drinks. But there I was, staring at a recipe that said, “Make limoncello in a sous vide.” Well, okay.
This ordeal started when I got Mrs. M the trendy appliance for Christmas – is heats water to a very specific temperature as you season whatever it is that you’re cooking, slip in into a ziplock freezer bag and slip in in the bath. You aren’t boiling it, really, the water is merely the heating element. And when you set the temperature to, say 155F, it stays there. At that temperature you can’t overcook the chicken – even if you leave in there for a couple of hours. Clever. And the wife has become a sous vide-ing machine.
And then I saw it. Well, I’m a reasonably law-abiding adult male who bartended in college so I am prone to… ideas. Besides, my brother just moved from making beer to whiskey and I had to do something to keep my self-respect. I’d had limoncello before and liked it. I’d seen what it does to Danny Devito when you polish off a few bottles with George Clooney and then go on national TV.
Limoncello is a lemon liqueur that is mainly produced in southern Italy, especially Amalfi. By distilling the versions of several historical sources, the stuff seems to have been invented about 100 or so years ago either in, depending on who you ask, Isola Azzura or Sicily, or Amalfi. Served chilled as an after-dinner digestivo, it’s the second most popular liqueur in Italy, behind Campari.
But how do you make it? Set the sous vide to start heating to 135F. Peel 10 lemons with a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the pith. Put peels in a quart ziplock bag or a mason jar with 4 cups of vodka. No need to splash out of on the good stuff here - although, avoid the stuff that you’d clean wounds with. The slip the bag or jar into the sous vide bath at 135, and leave it there for about 2 hours. Again, it’s hard to actually overcook something in a sous vide, but this is more like steeping, so don’t let it go too long.
Meanwhile make some simpler syrup, for this recipe don’t do the traditional 1:1 water / sugar ratio. Use 1 ½ cups of sugar to 4 cups of water. Strain the limoncello into a jug, pour in the cooled simple syrup and chill. That’s about it. Can make it with oranges as well…
Being of a certain age I was awake a 2 am with that alcoholic sugar rush, but you can’t really blame that on the lemons. Most booze will do that in the right volume.