A Labor of Love for Labor Day

Limoncello51Anyone who’s known me this year has heard me talk about Limoncello.  I discovered this liqueur in Italy a decade ago and more recently have heard that people in California make their own. After a Christmas party where I talked to a person who’d done it, I decided that I should  try to do it myself. The first batch went well, even if it was a bit small.

Ann and I mentioned this to some friends, who told us that they had more lemons than they knew what to do with. Later that day, I received two large bags of lemons which I zested within a few days, put in my gallon jar, and covered with 151 proof Everclear. [I'll note that my friends fell into two camps... those who had never heard of Everclear and those who said that they hadn't heard of it since college: I'll bet that they had a good time partying at school.] I let this sit for a few months. There is no reason to rush the process.

We decided to turn lemony liquor into Limoncello on Labor day. This takes place in a few steps.

  • You strain the liquid to remove all the lemon peels. There was over a pound of alcohol-soaked lemon peels pulled out.
  • Limoncello31Then you filter it through coffee filters to remove all the small bits of lemon that have come loose in the liquid.  This batch was special, because I used filters given to me by Michael Jay of Educational Systemics, who I have had the pleasure of working with in the past year on the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI) and Accessibility Metadata.  He had commissioned some special coffee filters that were labeled “Spam Filter, Designed for Blended Learning” that he had used in an education comedy talk that he did. I know of no other Limoncello that  was filtered with a spam filter (click here for the full size filter picture).
  • Limoncello41Finally, you mix the lemon-alcohol with an equal amount of simple syrup. Simple syrup is also very easy: it’s equal proportions of sugar and water.  This drink has all the basic food groups: Lemon, alcohol, sugar and water.

When it was all done we had just over a gallon.  This nicely fit into the 8 ounce bottles that we purchased, as well as a larger bottle as a gift to the owner of the lemon tree and one for us. I will gladly take lemons from others, as I am enjoying making this liqueur. It’s much easier than making jams or jellies.

And here is the fruit of my labor for this Labor Day.


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  1. Jeff Betts says

    People in Chicago do this as well! January is the prime month for preparing limoncello, since not only do we generally have Everclear stockpiled for the winter, but a 90-day minimum incubation time means the batch will be ready for spring and summer. “Charlie’s Choice” looks like a great batch!

  2. says

    Commissioned those Spam filters? No way! I actually had an embosser made to my design and (with the help of my colleague, Teila Evans) hand embossed each and every one, 500 in all. One would think that such a simple device wouldn’t require directions but noooo! Chuck… its a Spam filter, meant to leave essence of Spam without the troublesome chunks that get caught in your teeth. From what I can tell, your Limoncello has no pork products what-so-ever thus invalidating the warranty. Don’t expect me to take those back. In any case, I haven’t metaChuck I liked more than you, Mr. Myers… a pleasure to work with on all things metadata.

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