Puglia lemons are in a class of their own. Nothing like supermarket lemons back in the UK. As I write I can smell the perfume and visualise the colour of wonderful fresh Puglia lemons. Imagine yourself on a sunny morning in Puglia. Guests can stroll out into the garden and pick lemons that are almost sweet enough to eat straight from the tree.
The trees produce fruit almost year-round. It’s quite amazing to see flowers, green lemons and ripe lemons, on the same tree at the same time. So we can pick fresh lemons at both of our Puglia villas anytime. As a result, there is rarely a shortage of lemons in our house.
There are so many things you can do with lemons. Google for lemon recipes and you will get thousands of results.
Recently I have been making Limoncello for our guest welcome baskets. Imagine yourself at your Puglia holiday villa. You have eaten a wonderful meal. Sit outside by the pool and sip Limoncello, a perfect digestivo to end your meal.
The recipe was given to me by Lynn Nesbitt, just about the first person I met after we arrived here in Puglia, I’m not sure where Lynn got the recipe from. Probably from a neighbour. In Italy, recipes for limoncello are handed down through families for generations, maybe starting back in the early 1600s. Then, rumour has it, Limoncello was first made in convents.
Other favourite recipes using lemons are Lemonade, Lemon Curd, Lemon Meringue Ice Cream and Lemon Meringue Pie.
Limoncello – The Recipe
- 10 Puglia Lemons (Preferably green but yellow will be okay. If you can’t get Puglia lemons, try any other unwaxed lemons.)
- 70 cl pure alcohol (95% proof) (If you can’t get pure alcohol substitute vodka, but it won’t be as good)
- 175 cl still mineral water
- 400 gm granulated sugar
Cut the peel off the lemons making sure to get all the white pith off. I use a french peeler to pare the lemon peel very finely.
Put the rinds with pure alcohol into a screw-top jar or Kilner jar big enough to take the peel and one litre of alcohol. Pour the alcohol over the peel and close the top.
Leave the peel and alcohol mixture for 10 days in a cool dark place. Give the jar a good shake every day. After 10 days, make a syrup with the water and the sugar. Bring the water and sugar to boil stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2 minutes then leave it to cool.
When the sugar syrup is cool, strain the alcohol/peel mixture. Then mix the syrup with the lemon flavoured alcohol.
The hard part
Wait for at least one month before drinking. Limoncello is best kept in the freezer and served very cold. It won’t freeze, the alcohol content won’t let it!