How to turn unwanted lemon rind into limoncello – recipe
Zero-waste wizard Benjamin Pryor is the co-founder and chief mixologist at our restaurant Poco in Bristol. Our chef Ian Clark rarely leaves him much food surplus to play with, but Ben often turns what does get left behind into house cocktails and infusions.
Spent citrus rinds are one thing we do have an abundance of. To make use of this surplus, Ben created a gin with local distillery Psychopomp using our excess organic lemon zest and foraged burdock and sea buckthorn. This gin now makes up the base of our house G&T, which also features our own homemade tonic. Limoncello is another classic recipe for using up spent lemon rinds, and as a result it has become our house digestif, not least because we love being able to serve a zero-waste spirit that we’ve made in-house.
Ben says it’s best to peel and store lemon zest in the freezer as you use your lemons, until you have enough to make a batch of limoncello, because otherwise spent lemon husks go off quickly. He also says that this recipe, while strong, can easily be diluted by adding up to 500ml of filtered water, to get a lower alcohol content and a less powerful flavour.
We use organic unwaxed lemons to avoid excessive pesticides and fungicides in this, our go-to digestif that’s usually served as an ice-cold shot straight from the freezer; it is also delicious topped with sparkling water and served over ice as an alcoholic lemonade. Even after it’s been used to make the limoncello, the spent lemon zest can still be used in desserts or marmalade in place of regular lemon zest; just remember it will have a hint of alcohol flavouring, too. Freeze the spent limoncello lemon zest on a baking sheet, then pack in an airtight container and freeze to use within six months.
10 organic unwaxed lemons
300g agave syrup
Peel the zest from 10 organic lemons, taking care to remove only the zest, because the white pith can be very bitter. Put the zest in a 1,200ml jar, add the vodka and leave to infuse (out of direct sunlight) for at least 48 hours for a mildly flavoured limoncello, and up to six weeks for a really strong, intensely flavoured one; however long you give it, be sure to shake the infusion daily. Once infused, fine strain the lemon zest out of the liquid, then return the alcohol to the jar with the agave syrup. Shake well to combine, then seal andstore in the freezer, ready to be serve chilled.