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Thanks for both the site and the Meyer experiment! Earlier this year, I made my very first batch ever with organic Meyer lemons (they’re seasonal; got mine at Whole Foods), and like you, I was surprised by the subtleness of the flavor, The standout feature to me was the aroma, which was . . uber-lemony. It reminded me of lemonscented dishwashing soap, but in a good way. I prefer the Meyer limoncello neat or with light beer; I think it overpowers the other ingredients in cocktails.Reply
While on the subject of Meyer Lemons, I invite you to try Napa Valley Limoncello (napacello.com) which is made using 100% organic Meyer lemons pealed and pithed by hand. There really is a HUGE taste between organic Meyer Lemons vs. non organic, not to mention a substantial price difference, when infusing the peels with alcohol. The bitterness you got from your version was most likely from the lemons being non-organic. (I’ve tried them all). Remember, the alcohol gets ALL the flavors out of the peels including any harsh residue left over from non-organic farming, which never goes away no matter how you wash the skin.
Meyer Lemons are much more delicate to work with and of course the other ingredients used in limoncello also have a considerable effect on the final taste of the product.
Remember, in every recipe the main ingredient is the the chef.
Napacello, wont taste as lemony/tart as the sorrento or eureka versions, but it may convince you that the Meyer Lemon version is just as good if not better for some. It tastes more like a fine desert wine with fruity-sweet lemon flavors than a liqueur and has a much higher diversity in terms of mixing in cocktails.
Personally, anything made with lemons is a good thing. Keep up the quest.
I started making various Cordials and liqueurs recently (winter boredom) and found your quest here. I saw how you were looking to try a few things here and there and I thought how you might like a resuorce on flavor pairing. It takes a little scientific exploration, but if you’re interested in adding a few little “secret ingredients” to spice it up, there’s a website that lists out a bunch of possible flavor pairings.
This takes you to the lemon peel chart, and there’s a seperate lemon jiuce and even lime juice chart if yuo’d like to explore the possibilities. It’s meant more for cooking, but hey! Who says you can’t pair a nice limoncello with a fancy dinner? Hope it’s at least interesting if not useful.Reply
Ben, thanks so much for this great site. I found it summer 2009 and because of your clear
recipe and documentation across so many batches, felt comfortable taking on the task which
has grown into a passion (er..addiction) for the stuff.
But I wanted to write and tell you about a problem I had with the 2 batches I made. I followed your basic recipe, using 2 bottles 151proof EC for EACH batch (filtered 7x thru Britta), with microplaner zester, with these details:
BATCH#1 started 8/8/09
– about 25 organic lemons from WholeFoods = 85g zest
– added 20g fresh grated ginger (experiment)
BATCH#2 started 8/31/09
– Sunkist Meyer non-organic lemons, soaked & scrubbed 15min, = 100g zest
…on 11/10/09 I added the 5cups sugar water (distilled):3.5 cups white refined sugar (your proportions) to each double-batch. I did not filter the zest out at this time, and I think according to standard winemaking process, that I should have. Instead I let the limoncello sit like this, with zest & sugarwater for another week or so.
…11/19/19 final filtration through white paper towels and natural brown coffee filters. (I will definitely filter with a fine mesh bag first, to get out the major solids, next time!)
I had scrubbed each batch of lemons pretty seriously with veggiewash & a hard sponge, and I think maybe it was too much. Perhaps I lost some zest doing this, and threw the balance/chemistry off. It’s a theory.
Immediate reaction from friends (drinkers, including some local winemaker friends): excellent strong fruit but overly strong alcohol burn. Everyone concluded that it needed (and could probably hold up to) additional dilution. (I had followed your recipe for dilution.) At this point instead of adding more sugarwater, i just diluted it to taste with Fiji water. At this point the limoncello turned from relatively clear & dark, to cloudy and lighter in color (more like how a friend of mine’s, who makes & sells his). I think a proper dilution would give a more ‘integrated’/homogenized taste, as this does taste just a bit ‘diluted’/flabby. but overall i’m very happy with it, since I like my drinks on the dry side, not sweet at all.
Friends’ tastes were divided about 50-50 between the clean, sharp, slight additional tinge/bite of the ginger batch (very subtle…i would triple this if you want to taste the ginger) and the softer, richer more orangey Meyer batch. Personally I prefer the latter, but I thoroughly enjoy both.
But I’m stumped on whether 1. the scrubbing took off too much zest, or 2) you & i have very different tastes (you like it THAT much stronger, unlikely).
I hope this helps some of your readers, and please feel free to email me with any feedback you might have for my next batch. Thank you again Ben for the site & all of your research ! This was an immensely satisfying project and probably a gateway for homemade Kahlua and other fun adult beverages.
PS: Here is some advice I got from the guys at the local winery. Some good ideas worth exploring
1. peels vs. gratings: peels retain more of the oils; gratings increase the surface area but may lose a lot to the air while grating. possible ideal solution–put peels in a blender then immediately put them in the alcohol (maximum surface area = reduced infusion time)
2. 3mos infusion time may not be necessary, especially with gratings. need testing.
3. bob’s idea- make use of inverted sugars (phase-reversed sugars that lose their ability to bind to each other, a la rock candy). How to: Add max. 1tbsp lemon juice to the sugar/water, simmer (little bubbles…) for 1hr? i think. not sure of his intention here.
4. aim for 50% alcohol in the final product. Before extra dilution, mine would have measured approximately: 750ml everclear : 590ml (2.5cups) water = 56% alc = 112 proof (This doesn’t account for loss during filtration, nor the sugar’s influence.)
I love this site and thank you for posting on my blog as well! My husband and I love to experiment with different homemade liqueurs but Limoncello is our favorite by far. I just recently finished a batch of Grande Marnier and have added that recipe to my blog.
I have often wondered what the Meyer lemons would taste like in a Limoncello so now I know that it will not be worth the effort of trying to get me hands on some , which can be rather difficult in SC.
I was also excited about Danny’s Limoncello and can’t wait to try it even though we enjoy making it ourselves.
I just signed up for your e-mail and look forward to updates!Reply
I was interested if you have tired Limonce limoncello, #1 selling limoncello in Italy yet? I couldn’t find any information on your site about it and I as curious to your thoughts on this product.
Look forward to reading a review soon!Reply
Wow, you’re definitely taking this more seriously than me! I wish I had seen your site before starting my little experiment, I would have learned a lot – a lot quicker. And those small bottles you asked about – they are 50 ml each, which should be only 1,7oz. They really are tiny! I wanted to keep some of the alcohol unsweetned, just in case I could do something useful with that as well… Good luck on finding the perfect limoncello recipe!Reply
Finally a comparison I was able to find. I’ve used organic lemons before with a perfect result. This time I used Meyers because for some reason they were 1/4 the price of regular lemons . This batch is just awful. The color is good but the taste has a medicinal flavor. Wish I’d had some idea how different the two types were before I wasted my time and money. Back to the originals for me!Reply
Hi Ben! I´m just writting to say I´m a big fan you ! You have made a nice job with this blog, you’r inspiring a lot people out there and making then discover this little piece of heaven on earth! Good job man! And I have a question, do you know what people used instead of refined sugar back in old days to prepare Limoncello ? I having been searching on net for a answer but no luck….and by way I´m from BrazilReply