Except instead of regular limoncello (because I can never make anything just regular), I also add a delicious twist into my mix with the garden Clementines. So what shall this hybrid creation be called, you ask? CLEMONCELLO!
So technically, you could make this right now and have it ready for New Year's Day dinner, or you could host a New Year's Day Clemoncello-making party with your buddies, and have this tasty digestif ready in time for Valentine's Day to share with your special someone...OR YOU COULD DO BOTH! (Just sayin'.)
- Use vodka that is made from grapes. This type of vodka is considered one of the cleaner, more neutral tasting vodkas.
- Meyer Lemons are the best, but regular lemons are good too. Meyer lemons cost a little more than regular ones, but they'll give the Clemoncello a "sweeter" lemon taste and make the liqueur more fragrant. Using regular lemons are good too, and will still give you a great flavor.
- Pick lemons and clementines that have thick skins, if possible. The thicker the skin, the more zest you'll have for the infusion. Thin skins will run the risk of accidentally getting the white pith into your infusion, and the smallest trace of white pith from the fruit will yield a bitter taste in your Clemoncello.
- Make sure to really scrub those citrus fruits clean before using. It's super important to scrub off any pesticides or wax that is on the outside of the fruit - the alcohol will pull every flavor out of the zest, and you don't want any of that nasty stuff in your infusion. Better yet, buy organic if you can, but still scrub to the fruit to get the wax off.
- 12 lemons, washed/scrubbed very well
- 8 clementines, washed/scrubbed very well
- 1 750-ml bottle of vodka (80-proof)
- 2 cups granulated cane sugar
- 2 cups water
- Using a zester or microplane, remove all the zest from the lemons and clementines. Be careful to not zest too deep and get the white pith that is underneath the zest. Any white pith that gets into your alcohol infusion will give the finished Clemoncello a bitter taste.
- Place all the zest into a large glass jar, and pour the vodka over the zest. Make sure the liquid covers all of the zest.
- Seal the jar, and set the sealed jar in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Let the mixture steep for at least 4 days, up to 1 month. (Trust me, this is safe! The alcohol will kill any germs and prevent anything weird from growing)
- After you reach the desired steeping time, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth into a large mixing bowl, removing any citrus zest particles.
- In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar together to a boil, with all the sugar dissolved. NOTE: Feel free to play with sugar and water ratios if you fancy. If you like things on the sweeter side, you can always add more sugar to the pan. If you want to dilute the alcohol base, you can add more water. Just don't go any higher than 3 cups to the sugar or water levels - things get bland and wonky after this.
- Once the sugar water reaches a boil, turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool to room temp.
- Add the simple syrup into the steeped alcohol, and mix well.
- Strain the Clemoncello once more through a cheese cloth.
- Pour the finished Clemoncello into bottles. Serve chilled. Clemoncello can be stored in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for a year.