Last summer I bought a Meyer Lemon tree at Wal-Mart for $14.00. As a Master Gardener, I’ve always wanted to try to grow lemons, so I saw the tree as my chance to do so. Our summers are hot and sometimes humid in the mid-west, but our winter’s can be harsh. I thought I could put it on our deck until fall, at which time I’d have to move it inside and hope my cats wouldn’t get into it. (They have left it alone, thankfully.)
My tree blossomed and developed tiny lemons in the early summer. They grew but remained green. By the time fall came, I moved the tree inside due to its sensitivity to cold temperatures. It was only about 2 feet tall and the lemons – about 8 of them, increased in size, but were still green. Eventually, the lemons grew to a 2 inch diameter and slowly started to ripen. At last, in late December, I had ripe lemons ready to pick. I was excited!
From the lemons, I made limoncello, homemade lemonade, and lemon bars. The most fun project was the limoncello. Limoncello is an Italian after dinner drink made with lemon infused vodka and simple syrup. It is potent but meant to be sipped. Later, I learned that the drink, limoncello, hails from the Island of Capri, off the Italian Coast.
So, just about a week before the end of the year, I zested the lemons I had. None of the juice, pulp, or pith go into the concoction, just the zest. One of the problems I ran into was having a large enough glass container to put in the liter of vodka, the multiple cups of simple syrup, and the zest. I decided on using my grandmother’s crystal punch bowl. After all, there wasn’t a reason I couldn’t have the recipe look pretty as it sat on my counter for a week.
Just before New Year’s, I was able to strain and bottle the Limoncello! It looked and smelled wonderful. Finally, I was so excited about this project that I ordered labels for my bottles from a seller on Etsy. I think it turned out pretty well and made some great gifts, too! The homemade limoncello is definitely a delicious after dinner drink, made all the more special by using my homegrown lemons! Cheers!