Friday, November 7, 2008

Lusting for lemons

One of the most lovely parts about winter in Sacramento was when people with lemon trees would bring in big bags of lemons to give away. (Note to California friends: If you could send me a box, tell me the weight and I'll send you an addressed and prepaid UPS label to put on it.) 

Three things I love to make and use in cooking require quantities of unblemished lemons: preserved lemons, lemon vinegar and limoncello. I saw this tip today on Chowhound:

The most important piece of advice for making homemade limoncello, says Delucacheesemonger, is to use food-grade grain alcohol instead of vodka to infuse your lemons. “The additional alcohol, or perhaps lack of water, leaches more oil from the zest. Difference is dramatic,” says Delucacheesemonger. Zest your lemons and use only the yellow part for limoncello infusion, sayskosmonut. Infuse the zests in grain alcohol for around three weeks. You’ll know it’s ready “when the zests appear to be almost crunchy,” says kosmonut. Then combine your infused alcohol with an equal volume of clear simple syrup.

I've had luck using vodka, but it does take about a month for the zest to whiten and the liquid to turn yellow.

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