Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homesteader Hooch

Hooch is what my Dad calls any homemade alcoholic beverage. It is usually featured in stories about my relatives. That's right, apparently I come from a long line of moonshine makers and runners.
My father, who never drinks, loves to tell stories on those who did.

I don't drink much either but a few times a year I like to have a cocktail. June loves to laugh at me or get really annoyed with me when I've had a drink.

Well, who am I kidding? I don't need a cocktail to annoy everyone.

Anyway, I decided to get in touch with my roots this winter
when I had the good fortune to score a grocery bag of lemons off of my Aunts backyard tree while I was in California.

This boon of fresh organic lemons in February is what started me on the long road to my dream aperitif, Lemoncello.

Lemoncello is the iconic drink of the southern coast of Italy. I will forever associate it with the hair raising bus ride up and down the mountain to and from St. Agata, where we would gaze down on lemon orchards lovingly tended on the rocky cliffs and where we spent a heavenly four days eating fish, bufalo (water buffalo) cheeses and drinking Lemoncello. We'll skip over the story about Jake, the flue and the looong train ride north.

Knowing exactly what I was going to do with my lemons, I guarded them from casual consumers for the rest of my trip. They could have the oranges and grapefruits, but hands off the lemons.

When I got back home I scoured the internets for the perfect recipe. This is the one I settled on. It had plenty of detail and many assurances that it was the best recipe ever. It was however not a recipe for the person short on patience. It took at least four months. Longer if you could stand it. The longer you wait the better it is.

As with all things that I do, I modified it as I went along. This is how I went about it.

Living a little rough here at the homestead I did not have the zester it called for so I used a fine grater. It worked really well, much better than trying to get the zest off with a knife or peeler.

1.The goal was to get as much yellow as I could from my 25 lemons and as little white of the peel as I could avoid.
2. I Poured 2 bottles of 80 proof vodka and one bottle of Everclear on top of the zest. hoodoggies that stuff is stiff.
3. Now the hard part: let it sit in a dark place, shaking occasionally, for three months.
4.Then add a cooked and cooled "simple syrup" of 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to the mix.
5. Let it sit for three more months.
6. Decant into bottles. through cheesecloth or a strainer or, like me, a tea ball and a ziplock bag with the corner cut off.

Keep in the freezer for hot summer days when you've had quiet enough of mowing and manure shoveling.

Invite your Friends over for a drink.


And remember, friends don't let friends fly drunk.


  1. ..there is nothing like vodka infused with anything! SOunds good..my neighbor makes moonshine from peaches in a small still made out of a pressure cooker and tubing..it is deliciously stong!

  2. Does the Moonshine taste like peaches? That sounds really interesting. Hmmm well, I would love to see pics.


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