So it’s been about two months since my last addition of extra lemon zest to the limoncello. The extra zest and additional two months made a big difference in the lemony intensity. Tasting it straight it’s still really strong, like a strong lemon extract, but the sharper edges from the Everclear have started to round out a bit.
So it looked like it was time to strain the zest out. I am still really amazed at how clear this batch turned out. The two previous attempts I’ve made at limoncello resulted in a really cloudy solution that I never did get properly strained. That is definitely not an issue with this batch. In fact, I had a tough time getting a photo of the jar that showed the deep lemon-yellow color the liquid had become. It was so transparent that it took a lot of fiddling with the lighting angle to get it to hit it just right for the camera to pick it up.
I didn’t have a kitchen funnel large enough to handle a batch this size, so I decided to use my new Chemex coffee maker. The 6 cup coffee maker turned out to be the perfect size. The Chemex filters are slightly thicker than a normal coffee filter so I figured that would help as well to keep any fine particulates from getting into jar.
After filtering that left me with just over 5 cups of liquid. The next step was to dilute and sweeten it. I made a batch of simple syrup by just taking equal parts of white sugar and water, bringing to a boil for two minutes, and then cooling. How much to add is sort of a matter of taste. I had added a bit of 80 proof vodka to the original batch because the bottle of Everclear wasn’t quite enough to fill the jug. So that brought the alcohol content down slightly. I ended up adding just under 3 cups of simple syrup solution to bring it up to about 8 cups total. I opted to keep it a little less sweet than I might want it in the end, figuring I could add a little more after it’s had a couple of months to mellow in the bottle. I’m guessing the 3 cups of simple syrup might have brought the limoncello down to around 100 proof – still pretty strong, but definitely more palatable than the straight lemony Everclear.
I had been wondering what would happen when I added the simple syrup. The liquid before adding it in was so clear I was worried it wouldn’t get that bright yellow color that limoncello should have. Obviously there was nothing to worry about. It brightened up as soon as the syrup hit it.
I had enough to fill two 750ml bottles with a bit left over. As an experiment, I took the left over amount and added it to another jar with a vanilla bean. I’m not sure where that idea came from, but a vanilla limoncello sounded intriguing. I’ll leave the bottles alone for a couple months and give it a taste taste then. From my previous batches it seems they continue mellowing for at least 6 months, so I’ll try to keep track of how these change.
In the mean time, it might be time to start another batch.