When it comes to Meyer Lemons, without a doubt, I have been blessed beyond words. While we only have a single tree, it has for years produced the most wonderful lemons and more often than not, more than we could ever use in a single season. We had to pick a little earlier than normal this year due to an early season freeze, but it didn't really hurt because this year's crop ripened a few weeks earlier than year's past. I was concerned that we did not have as many as last season (over 1,000), but as always our sweet little tree provided enough for our needs (Limoncello) as well as more than enough to share - I also believe that when life gives you lemons, you should bless others. I'm convinced a whole blog could be devoted to the beauty of Meyer lemons and it seems that there's no end to recipes, so because of that, I have decided to put a sightly different spin on this year's 12 Days of Meyers series. I've invited some of my friends and favorite local food bloggers to write guest posts with their favorite lemon recipes. Naturally, I let them know up-front that I would provide them with as many Meyers as they needed for testing their recipes. So, over the next two weeks, I am super pleased to introduce some truly lovely bloggers and some pretty awesome friends that know how to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of these sweet little orbs. But before I do, I'm going to handle Day One with our Limoncello recipe, along with a little history about our tree.
We brought it to Austin when we moved here over 12 years ago from California. The tree originally belonged to my Grandmother and it spent about 15 years in a pot before we received it, and another 4 or 5 before we moved. The one question we get asked often is "How can one tree produce so many lemons here in Texas?" Honestly, we don't have any secrets. Its got good roots and three walls of protection from the elements. In the past we have wrapped it in Christmas lights to give it a trace of heat in the winter and soaked it good during those hot Texas summers. All in all, a lot of prayer went out over that tree every time the elements tried to swallow it up. We thought we came close to losing it one winter during a particularly hard freeze - one of the few years that we did not get a crop. Luckily, my little brother mailed us lemons from his tree back in California so that we could make our annual batch of Limoncello. This year, my sweet tequila guy braved the cold and picked almost 500 lemons before the freezing arctic air swept in overnight. We left another 300 or so on the tree as they were still a few weeks away from being ripe and thought it would be worth the risk to leave them on the tree to see if they would survive. They did and we are still picking them a few at a time for our daily needs.
Since Limoncello is something we have been making for years, I thought it fitting to post our recipe for Day One of this year's 12 Days of Meyers. It's a little different from other recipes out there as we zest our lemons instead of peeling them, use a combination of Everclear and Vodka, and we let ours sit longer then most. But I promise the flavor is well worth the effort. Come Spring when it starts to get warm you will find us sitting on the back porch sipping this ice cold elixer, reminding us how blessed we are to have such a beautiful tree.
|My Tequila Guy picking this year before the freeze.|
1.5 Cup Lemon Zest (15-25 lemons, depending on size)
1 Liter Vodka (80 Proof)
500 ml Everclear (190 Proof)
1 Liter Simple Syrup (Ratio: 1 cup water/.75 cup sugar)
Thoroughly wash lemons with cold water and dry.
With a microplane, zest lemons.
Put zest in sterile, sealable jar.
Add vodka and Everclear, seal, and let sit in a cool, dry, dark place for 30-45 days. Add simple syrup, seal and let sit 14 more days. Strain and filter (cheesecloth and coffee filters do the trick) and place in freezer overnight. Filter again for clarity. *NOTE: It should go without saying, but Everclear is EXTREMELY flammable. Please take appropriate precautions when handling
If 190 proof Everclear is not available in your area, substitute with 151 proof Everclear and use 750 ml Simple Syrup instead of 1 liter.
This will result in almost 2.5 liters of ~70 proof Limoncello