Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodfood in Italy Part 1: Making Limoncello in Positano


"The first shot feels so goood in the mouth, the second one
goes down sooo easily, and then you have the third, and
Mamma Mia ... you burn ..." said my new friend Lorenzo
about drinking Limoncello, the favourite liqueur of
the Amalfi coast.

Having lost an afternoon ito Limoncello earlier, I knew
only too well what he was talking about. And I was delighted
when Chef Vincenzo offered to teach me to make this
sweet and lethal drink.

We started with 1 kg of the finest Sorrentine lemons.
These babies are bigger
than tennis balls, fragrant and delicious,
and only found on the Amalfi coast.

Chef and I skinned them, taking care
to leave out the bitter white parts,
put the skins in a glass jar and
added 1 litre of pure alcohol (95% strength).
Almost immediately the colourless alcohol
started turning lemony.

Ideally the skins should steep in the
alcohol for 10 days. We didn't have
10 days so after 24 hours we
strained the liquid ( which by now was dark
lemon-yellow) into a large pot.
Separately we had boiled 1 kg sugar in 1.3 litre water
(note the proportions or you risk death) and cooled it down.
Now we mixed the lemon-alcohol mixture and the sugar-water,
and ended up with a light lemony liquid.
All that was left to do was bottle it using a funnel
( for some reason the shape of the funnel caused
a lot of laughter among the Italians in the kitchen)
And with that ladies and gentlemen, we ended up with
a 2 litre bottle of limoncello of about 45% strength. Part
of this bottle is coming home with me to Hong Kong,
assuming the Customs guys don't take a dim view.

Grazie Grazie to Chef Vincenzo and Lorenzo of
Ristoranti Mediterraneo, Positano. Salute !


sandeep ray said...

so there is actually no lemon juice in lemoncello? the flavour is all from the skin? interesting. never thought of that. kepp up these installments on subsequent cooking adventures.


Argha Sen said...

No mate, only lemon skins and alcohol and water and sugar. That's why it is so good and so dangerous

Anonymous said...

um... looking forward to your 45% limoncello comes to HK...!! daphne

Ambar said...

I am increasing my insurance - 95% - man that's lethal stuff. P.S. You looked great in that Chef Cap.

Niladri Bhattacharya said...

Wow ! Argha
Could not ever know that lemoncello is all skin .
You are the king .

Niladri Bhattacharya said...

Wow !!!!!
Could I ever know lemoncello is all skin
You are the king , Argha

Ben said...

I'll have to try to make a speed batch like that soon. I wonder how different it is if the peels don't have much time to soak.

Anonymous said...

I saw something about that subject on TV last night. Great post.