I know I'm way overdue on following up my experiment with homemade liqueur. What can I say? Spring is here and the days are just getting away from me with all sorts of out door chores and the planting schedule. I have good intentions, but only so many hours in the day.
Anyway, on to the clemencello results. I started this experiment back in early January. It turned out pretty well.
As you can see from this picture, by the time all the peels were in the alcohol, there was significant color leaching going on with the earliest added peels. The ones on the bottom look like lemon peels compared to those on top. Over time, the alcohol leached much of the color from the peels, so they all looked that pale.
On the 11th of February I removed the peels and added about one cup of sugar syrup to the 12 ounces of flavored liqueur. I had not followed any specific syrup recipe when I prepared it, but I came up with a syrup rather on the thick side. I wanted to make sure I did not dilute the alcohol enough to let it freeze if it were chilled in the freezer. By using a concentrated syrup, I avoided adding too much water in the process of sweetening it, and the sugar itself would help lower the freezing point of the mixture. So I had to judge by taste how much syrup to mix into the liqueur. When the bitterness from the peels was no longer dominant, I deemed it sufficient. I didn't add enough syrup so that the bitterness completely disappeared. I expected that the flavors would adjust over time. Of course when you make your own liqueur, you can sweeten it however much you prefer.
I let the mixture sit for a week so that the ingredients could get well acquainted, shaking it up every other day or so. Then I tasted it again, and thought it still needed a little more sweetness. So I added some more of the concentrated sugar syrup. After that I strained the liquid first through a fine metal strainer and then a second time through a coffee filter. This removed a little sediment that had come from the peels.
I didn't have a pretty bottle to store the clemencello in, but I did give some of it away as a present. The gift recipient appreciated it even in the re-used bottle. We also saved a small amount for our own consumption. We've been enjoying it in small sips after dinner now and then. It's nice either at room temperature or chilled. I think in summertime I would mostly drink it well chilled.
There really wasn't much to making this liqueur. Aside from knowing how to remove the pith from citrus peels (illustrated in my earlier post), not much is needed in the way of either effort or expertise. Time does most of the work, and then it's a matter of following one's own taste as far as sweetness goes. I would certainly try this again with any citrus peels that weren't earmarked for baked goods.
Have any of you made your own liqueurs? Share your stories in the comments, please.