Lemoncello Anyone?

As mentioned in the last post, the fondness we have for our lemon trees has expanded to the making of a favorite Italian liqueur ~  Lemoncello!  Any European Style Country House worth its salt must have a signature liqueur, so we now produce:  Villa Vigneto Lemoncello.   What else should one do with 64 lemons coming off of one tree and another 64 blossoms about to pop, ready to morph into beautiful lemons? 

Make Lemoncello......and so we did! 

 For this batch we used Dripping Springs Vodka, the only American Vodka to win the Vodka Purity Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition

For this batch we used Dripping Springs Vodka, the only American Vodka to win the Vodka Purity Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition

The little 5 oz. bottles we make of Villa Vigneto Lemoncello have graced our guest rooms as gifts and make a fabulous surprise in a Christmas basket arranged with lemon cookies and other lemon-y delights.  The recipe comes from my “Hero of Home Renovation” and the “Bard of Tuscany” as the New York Times calls her; the author of the best-selling book, Under The Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes.   

In her book, Recipes From Our Italian Kitchen:  The Tuscan Sun Cookbook, Frances outlines the joys of sitting around the table after dinner and under the stars in Tuscany sipping their “digestivi” and lemoncello.  She shares her recipe:

"Riccardo's Lemoncello" 

8 organic lemons

1 quart alcohol, 90 proof, or vodka

2 cups sugar

1 quart bottled “still” water (distilled as opposed to sparkling water)

Peel the lemons, leaving a little pith attached to the peel.  Reserve the lemons for another use.  Put the peels and alcohol in a large sterilized jar with a lid.  Close it tightly and leave it in a cool place for four to seven days.  Gently shake it a couple of times a day.  The peels will lose their brilliant yellow color.

On the fifth day, or later, in a large saucepan, heat the sugar and water almost to the boiling point but not quite.  Reduce the heat, and simmer and stir for 5 minutes.  Allow the syrup to cool.

Strain the lemon-scented alcohol through gauze or a strainer into the sugar syrup.  Discard the peels.  Whisk the mixture well and pour into 4 sterilized pint bottles.  Let the lemoncello sit for two days.  Later, you can store it indefinitely in the freezer, so it will be frosty-cold when you serve it in small glasses. 

 Our bottling production line......a labor of love!

Our bottling production line......a labor of love!

Should you decide to try your hand at making lemoncello, don't let these photos scare you.  Frances' recipe was doubled in these pictures in preparation for the Villa Vigneto Texas Launch Party in April, 2016.  As with most things I enjoy, I always want more to share and I'm sure you will also once you try it.

 A frosty cold bottle of lemoncello and as the label says, "Harvested and Handcrafted from The Tiniest Little Orchard at Villa Vigneto"

A frosty cold bottle of lemoncello and as the label says, "Harvested and Handcrafted from The Tiniest Little Orchard at Villa Vigneto"

When Life Gives You Lemons.......Make Lemoncello!