What says WELCOME SUMMER more than homemade Limoncello? Maybe homemade Limoncello mojitos! Lucky me, I had both last weekend. Coincidentally, last weekend was also the first time in months that Minneapolis experienced nice weather on a weekend. After the winter from hell, it was wonderful. Add homemade Limoncello mojitos to the mix and it’s total bliss!
I came across the idea for homemade Limoncello from another great blog — Handjobs (For the Home). I’ve been following Handjobs for a couple of months and he has some great ideas! Even my boyfriend, L, has been caught checking out the latest Handjob post.
This was my first experience making my own infused vodka — although certainly not my first time enjoying it. The process involved two major steps, and weeks of waiting (eight weeks of waiting, but who’s counting). If you know me at all, you know waiting for anything is NOT my strong suit. In this case, my patience paid off!
Back in early April, I started Step 1 of the recipe by using a potato peeler & peeling the zest from 4 lemons. Be careful to only peel the zest, leaving behind all the bitter white pith.
Put the lemon zest pieces into a glass canning jar, and add 1 1/2 cups of vodka (I used Absolut but any semi-decent vodka should work). Make sure lid of the jar is tightly sealed, because you’re going to be giving the jar a good shake every day for the next 2 weeks!
It’s no secret that I’m easily entertained and amazed, but I really was surprised at how the vodka took on the best qualities of the lemon in 2 weeks. The vodka became a bright lemon yellow color, took on a serious citrus smell and even tasted pretty good before it was transformed into Limoncello.
After the two weeks passed, it was time for Step 2: making a simple syrup & combining it with fresh squeezed lemon juice and the infused vodka.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Strained lemon infused vodka
First, combine the water and sugar in a stock pot & bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and then put the pot in the refrigerator to cool for about 30-40 minutes.
While the syrup is cooling, juice 4 lemons, straining the pulp and pouring the juice into a bowl. I recommend using a nifty citrus juicer to get the most
bang for your buck juice from your lemons. Next, strain the lemon infused vodka into the same bowl, making sure to breathe deeply to enjoy the serious citrus scent. (Did you catch that alliteration? Fun with words, kids.) Once the syrup is cool, slowly add it to the bowl with the lemon juice & lemon vodka.
You now have Limoncello! It tasted pretty good at this point, but key to the entire recipe, is to “age” the Limoncello for 6 weeks. Put the Limoncello into a bottle or jar with a tight sealing lid. I bought this one from Crate & Barrel and really wish I had picked up a few more, if only to ensure I was able to constantly age Limoncello! I suppose you could also use a tight sealing canning jar, but isn’t the glass bottle so much prettier?!?
After 6 looong weeks of aging the Limoncello in a cool dark spot (on the basement pantry shelf for me), I opened it up last weekend to celebrate the sun reappearing after several long, dark months (oh, and L’s birthday BBQ). Although you can certainly drink it straight over ice (yum!), I decided to make Limoncello mojitos to (1) use some of the mint growing in my herb garden and (2) enjoy the Limoncello as long as possible. I came up with a pretty simple mojito recipe. I made a pitcher, but you can easily modify this to make a glass or two.
approximately 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
2 Tbsp sugar
2 lemons, juiced
1 1/2 – 2 cups Limoncello
1 liter club soda
Combine chopped or torn mint leaves, sugar & lemon juice in bottom of a pitcher, muddle together with a wooden spoon; Add Limoncello & club soda to the pitcher, mix well. Pour over ice & enjoy!
I have to say, this was well worth the wait! The Limoncello mojitos were the perfect addition to the first summer BBQ! Enjoy!