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Flavor From Scratch: Lemon Extract


Lemon Extract

What do you think of when you think of lemons? Lemonade? Well that's a good thought. I like lemonade. But that's not what I was thinking of.  I think of the trip that my husband and I took to Italy a few years back. We went on a tour to the Amalfi Coast, where lemons were in abundance. To get to the coast, the little bus we were on had to make some turns that I'm pretty sure a bus shouldn't make, especially on a road where one side was a cliff down into the Mediterranean. *Oh man* But, we all made it thanks to our wonderful bus driver who apparently was used to those turns and I live to tell the story.

It seemed like limoncello was literally EVERYWHERE in every single shop and every single place we went on the Amalfi Coast. The store owners pretty much chased us down to give us samples. But we also saw some good ol' plain lemons. Case and point, here are some lemons we saw just sitting there in front of a truck waiting to go somewhere to be delicious. Now, I'm used to lemons like you see in the yellow bins there. But, then shift your eyes to the ENORMOUS lemons in the black bin. Whoa!! I certainly do not know what they are...I'm sure they have a special name. I'm just going to call them gigantic lemons because that's what they look like to me.

At any rate, on a rainy day like today, it makes me smile thinking about these lemons and the beautiful coast of Italy. When you make this, if you close your eyes maybe you can picture yourself there too. Or maybe you're not good at pretending. In that case, just enjoy the lemon extract!

prep time: 5 minutes (plus about 1-2 months wait time)
makes: approximately 1 cup

  • zest from 1 lemon (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup vodka

  1. Zest 1 lemon using a microplane, or vegetable peeler. Use the top, yellow layer of the lemon trying to avoid the white pith as much as possible.
  2. Put the zest and the vodka in a mason jar and shake. Place in a cool, dark place and let sit for 1-2 months. Shake the jar occasionally. 
Use organic lemons if possible because the pesticides from the lemon can seep into the extract easily. 
If after 2 months the flavor is not as strong as you want, you can let the extract sit for longer or strain the zest and add fresh zest from another lemon.



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