Limoncello success! Limoncello is an Italian "digestivo" or liqueur which is taken in small doses after a meal. I think they're derived from old-fashioned medicinals, just like bitters. (Oh, bitters. Don't get me started. It's like a mad scientist's lab, an apothecary's den or a magician's workbench. I don't even drink the stuff and I want to make it! We looked at some old and new recipes and were stunned by the amount of foraging you'd have to do...wormwood and milk thistle, yew and burdock, myrtle, juniper berries and more...) We made about 2 liters, which is more than enough for ourselves and gifts (I have to give a bottle to the nice waiter at the Italian restaurant who gave us the recipe) and our total cost came to about US$7 total, which is not bad, not bad at all.
Here is the photographic evidence:
This reminds me of an old Pat McManus story about boys who pee into Mason jars all summer. It looks like we've got our own collection going on here!
After a week in nearly 190 proof alcohol, all the oil and color leached out of the lemon peels. They were actually crispy, like they'd been fried in oil. This might be a good visual for explaining to the impressionable young why excessive consumption of alcohol is bad. Imagine what this could do to your liver, after a week of immersion!
Here we are, straining. I bought "entretela" as per the directions by a Brazilian blogger, as it seemed the closest to cheesecloth. In addition to working well to strain both the sugar syrup and the lemon extract, I think it'll work splendidly for making yogurt cheese and possibly other cheeses. (Maybe I need to set aside a whole week to explore this subject in great, edible detail!)
The easiest way to use the "entretela" was to slip a square of it into a plastic coffee filter thing, which is what you see here.
Here I am, trying to look coy and instead probably giving my grandparents a heart attack! That's an olive oil bottle in one hand...as for the other, well, I believe it was a leftover from Rome. Mostly gone before it arrived in Rio...
Last, but not least, the final product! It tastes pretty decent already, but we're going to let it age in the bottle about a month or so before sharing it with friends, so the sugars have a chance to blend and mellow and whatnot. A sip after dinner is quite refreshing, and I have great plans to explore its potential in dessert sauces as well, and maybe a splash over cake for extra moistness...