Summer is in full swing, finally.
After some rainy and cold days in late Spring, it is finally time to go out and enjoy the sunshine. The moment has come for endless days at the beach, outdoor concerts, day trips to the mountains, bike rides, feet in the grass, and long nights spent chatting with friends.
Simply put, I have been waiting all year for summer to arrive.
I love the changing of seasons, I don’t know if I’ll be able to live in a place where it’s summer all year round, but – let’s be honest – there’s no better season than summer. Everything’s nicer in summer, people seem happier, everything is wide awake, there’s magic in the air.
One of the things I like the most, in summer, is having friends over for dinner. I am not a great cook, but I love cooking for friends. I usually prepare everything in advance and have some kind of picnic/aperitivo/dinner ready for them in my garden. This gives me the opportunity of spending time with them without being buried in the kitchen and missing a single chat.
Well, what is the perfect ending of a summer dinner? Limoncello, of course.
Limoncello, the perfectly tasting liquor made with lemons, is a recipe that comes from the South of Italy – from Naples and its surroundings, in particular. When I was little, nobody in my family knew limoncello and I never saw anybody drinking it. We didn’t have relatives in the South and had never been there, so probably we never got the chance to taste it. Then, all of a sudden, limoncello was everywhere. I don’t remember exactly how that happened, but everybody was drinking it – here up North.
My mother started looking for a recipe and, after trying a few different ones, she came up with the perfect limoncello recipe – which has now become a staple in my family cookbook. I really like it because it has a perfect balance between the taste of alcohol and that of lemon, it is strong but just as much as needed and has a lovely lemony flavor. Moreover, making it is very easy – it just takes a little time and patience.
As for every typical recipe in Italian cuisine, each family has its own version and claims that it is the best one. The one below is the one my mother has always used and I love it because it is not too strong and is a perfect mixture of alcohol and lemons. I am sure you’ll find a thousand different recipes around, but I’d never try another one. This one is the one for me.
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) organic lemons
1 liter (4.2 cups) alcohol
600 gr. (2.6 cups) sugar
1 liter (4.2 cups) of water
Carefully wash the lemons, dry them, and peel the zest from them. While doing this, make sure not to remove the bitter white pit of the lemon skin. Put the lemon zest into a large glass jar and cover it with the alcohol. Close the jar, let the zest macerate for a week, and then filter it.
Boil the water with the sugar for 4/5 minutes and let it cool down. Once cool, add the filtered alcohol, mix well, and bottle it. Wait at least 20 days to drink it. Serve it chilled.
FYI: Limoncello should be drunk in proper glasses – which should be previously chilled.