Almost everyone lucky enough to visit Italy will, at some point, sample Limoncello. This lemon-flavored liqueur is often served after dinner as an aid to digestion, un digestivo, and, when properly made, Limoncello will have a strong lemony flavor without being bitter or sour like freshly squeezed lemon juice. Though many believe that the lemons that grow in and around Sorrento produce the best Limoncello, these lemons are not available here in the States. So, with no other options available, I’ve aways used “regular” organic lemons to make my Limoncello. This all changed, however, last year.
For the first time ever, Meyer lemons were available in virtually every grocery store I entered. I’d never seen so many. Having read that Meyers were as close to the famed Sorrento lemons as one can get here, I decided to use them to make my Limoncello. Remarkably, at the very same time that I was collecting the Meyer lemons, the grocer was putting out blood oranges. Suddenly, I was buying blood oranges, too, having decided that very moment to make orange-flavored liqueur, Arancello, as well. With an eye towards this Christmas, I thought I’d,also, make lime-flavored liqueur and give all three as gifts. Since I only had 2 jumbo jars and both were already filled with zest and grain alcohol, I put off buying the limes until I’d emptied one of them.
Once I got home, I checked my recipe for Limoncello, calculated how much Everclear (grain alcohol) I’d need for all 3 “celli”, and headed to my neighborhood liquor store. Want to have some fun? Go into a liquor store and buy about 1.5 gallons (5.25L) of grain alcohol. No need to answer when the clerk asks, “Will there be anything else?” A look will suffice.
My “celli” recipes are similar to those that are available on the internet. One thing that I do differently from most is that I use a micro-plane to remove the zest from the citrus. Though most recipes say to use a peeler to remove the peel, being careful not to collect any pith (the white stuff), I find it quite difficult to do. The problem is that the more pith you collect, the more bitter the liqueur. By using a micro-plane, I keep the amount of pith — and bitterness — to a minimum and I’m done in half the time it would take me to “peel” the zest. Once you get passed the zest collection step, you’ll find the rest of the recipes to be straight-forward and you should have no trouble following them.
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On behalf of Zia and the rest of the Bartolini Clan, I’d like to wish you all a New Year filled with Peace and Joy.
Happy New Year!
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“Celli” Liqueur Recipes
- zest of 25 Meyer lemons, scrubbed clean
- 1800 ml Everclear (See Notes)
- 7 c (1660 ml) spring water
- 5.5 c sugar
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- zest of 14 blood oranges, scrubbed clean
- 5.5 c (1300 ml) Everclear (See Notes)
- 5 c (950 ml) spring water
- 4 c sugar
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- Place all ingredients in a large jar, cover tightly, and place in a cool, dark place. Shake contents occasionally — i.e., once per week.
- After 45 days, pour contents through a sieve to remove the zest. Cover tightly and return to a cool, dark place.
- After 2 weeks, filter the liqueur one more time through cheesecloth, or, for a very clear liqueur, through a hand strainer containing 2 coffee filters.
- Liqueur may be stored in a serving container, gift bottles, or back in the same jar, once rinsed. (See Notes)
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With 2 jugs of citrus zest flavoring the Everclear, I was looking forward to making lime-cello in the near future — and then I saw Siobhan’s post describing how to make cherry liqueur on her wonderful blog Garden Correspondent. (Do pay her a visit for a charming look at family life and gardening in Turkey.) Not long after, while returning from a visit with Zia, I stopped at a cherry orchard to buy tart cherries, some of which were destined for this liqueur. Lime-cello would have to wait.
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Tart Cherry Liqueur Recipe
- 1670 g (59 oz) tart cherries
- 835 g (29 oz) sugar
- 417 ml (14 oz) Everclear (See Notes)
- 18 whole cloves
- 7 cinnamon sticks
- In a large jug with a lid, begin with a layer of sugar and then cherries, repeating both layers until the cherries are used up. Top off the jug’s contents with the remaining sugar.
- Seal the container and leave in a sunny location for 1 month.
- After one month, give the cherry mixture a good stir and add the spices wrapped and tied in cheese cloth. Re-seal the container and set it aside for another month.
- After a month, strain and reserve both liquid and cherries. Use a spoon to press as much liquid out of cherries as possible. Save cherries for another use. (See Notes)
- Add the liquor to the reserved cherry juice. Set aside in cool, dark place for 2 weeks.
- After 2 weeks, strain the liquid through cheese cloth or, for a very clear liqueur, through a hand strainer containing 2 coffee filters.
- Like Limoncello, your tart cherry liqueur will continue to mellow as it sits.
With thanks to Siobhan, Garden Correspondent, for the recipe.
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Although I used blood oranges and Meyer lemons to create my “celli”, you can use regular oranges and lemons just as easily. Do try to use organic fruit when available.
As was mentioned, I had intended to make a 3rd “cello”, lime-flavored, but decided to make the cherry liqueur instead. Now that the gifts have been given and the large jars emptied, I may yet give lime-cello a try. Besides, I have to do something with that half-bottle of Everclear.
So, you’ve made a batch of Arancello and are wondering what else can be done with it other than drinking it straight from the bottle. Coincidentally, earlier today a cocktail recipe using Arancello was posted on a fantastic blog, Feeding My 3 Sons. Not only does this blog feature great recipes, each is reviewed by 3 of the toughest critics in all of WordPress.
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Most of our citrus fruit is “protected” after picking with a light coat of wax. Be sure to use a brush under running water to remove this coating before attempting to zest the fruit.
Everclear is grain alcohol and is very potent. (75.5% alcohol, 151 proof) It is dangerous to drink it “straight” out of the bottle. In the recipes above, it is diluted using spring water, bringing the alcoholic content into more acceptable levels. If you feel it is still too strong, simply add more water.
If you cannot find Everclear or do not wish to use it, vodka can easily be substituted. When you do, there’s no need to add any spring water at all, though you can if you wish to dilute the liqueur.
It is advisable that the liqueurs be filtered a second time before being chilled for serving. This will remove the tiniest of particles thus ensuring your liqueurs will be clear when served.
You will find that all 3 liqueurs will mellow as time passes. For best results, they should, also, be stored in your freezer for at least 1 week before being served. Patience is a virtue and you’ll be well-rewarded the longer you wait.
Though you should discard the citrus zest once it is strained out of the liqueurs, you may wish to save the cherries. Though not suited for children, you may think of a few desserts in which to use them. Personally, I place them in jars that I then fill with vodka and store in the fridge. A couple of weeks later I enjoy them as-is or as a garnish in vodka martinis. Just be sure to warn your guests if there are pits in the cherries. Of course, after a few of them, no one will care.
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In January, I am going to celebrate a milestone birthday, the big SIX OH! Though I’ve nothing special planned as yet, there are a couple of projects, here at home, that I have neglected, using this blog as an excuse for procrastinating. Well, I’ve no intention of starting the next decade with these tasks still waiting to be completed and, as a result, the Kitchens will be closed for the month of January, reopening on February 5th. Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement. See you in February!
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
To complete my review of Bartolini holiday dishes, today’s look back will feature our cappelletti recipe. Served for lunch on New Year’s Day, these stuffed pasta are traditionally shaped like the brimmed hats once worn by priests. Unable to produce enough hat-shaped pasta to serve our family, Mom’s cappelletti were shaped like small ravioli, raviolini. No matter their shape, cappelletti are usually served in broth, brodo, and are a delicious dish to serve on the First Day of the Year. You can check out my family’s recipe for cappelletti simply by clicking HERE.
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