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When Life Throws You Lemons, Make Limoncello

A liqueur with roots in Southern Italy, Limoncello is a pitcher of relief.

Summer brings apricots, nectarines, oranges, and figs to our own backyard. Summer also brings birds, squirrels, and some less attractive little mammals to our own backyard. And before you can say, “Hey, that’s my tree,” you find yourself without any apricots, nectarines, oranges and figs.

So the war begins, and the homesteader brings weapons such as netting, streamers, and ammonia-soaked rags. But there’s one fruit that fights its own battles, and that’s the lemon. Because the juice is tart, all the critters tend to leave lemons to their own devices. We tend to leave the lemon pretty much alone, too, other than a squeeze of juice on a salad or piece of fish, or an occasional glass of lemonade.

But if you get started right now, lemons can provide one of the most refreshing drinks just in time for the dog days ahead.

Limoncello is a liqueur, and the recipe comes from an area in Southern Italy that enjoys a Mediterranean climate similar to ours.  

At its most basic, Limoncello requires:

  • Zest of 10 to 15 lemons
  • Simple syrup
  • Vodka

Pour vodka and room-temperature simple syrup over the zest in a mason jar. Keep in a cool dark place for 4 to 8 weeks. Remove zest and decant.

Traditional recipes call for a 100-proof Vodka, but personally, I just use any store-bought brand. I serve it all summer long and never hear any complaints. 

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