Intoxicated by Buddha’s Hand
Forgive me if I’m a little tipsy as I tipe, er, type.
Remember that gnarly looking fruit that my friend Damian grew? That yellow citrus fruit that’s a dead-ringer for a sea amenomee, uh, anenome…um, you know what I mean? Yes, that Buddha’s hand that he gave me in January? Surely, you remember my post on that unusual gift.
You can probably guess what I made from it, after seeing the photo above with the bottle of Everclear lurking dangerously in the background. Yup, Buddha-cello. A version of the classic Italian liqueur, limoncello, but with Buddha’s hand rather then lemons.
After heeding some useful advice about making limoncello from Lisa at Learning To Eat and Hedonia –Â (I think it was them. I dunno any more. My mind isn’t so good now.) — I set off for BevMo to buy my first bottle of Everclear.
My husband says he remembers stirring up punch with this stuff at college frat parties. I wonder how he’s still walking now, let alone how he managed to graduate.
To say this stuff is strong is an understatement.Â It’s P-O-T-E-N-T! It’s natural grain alcohol that’s 151 proof or 75.5 percent alcohol. Cough, cough. Good gawd.
Limoncello afficionados swear it makes a far superior product than mere vodka, because it has a more neutral taste and can therefore better absorb the flavor of the citrus that’s being infused.
Nothing but the best for my Buddha’s hand, I say. So I toted home a 750ml bottle, hoping it wouldn’t spontaneously combustÂ in my car on the ride home. Hey, ya never know.
In my kitchen, I set about taking apart my Buddha’s hand, which is definitely more work than just zesting a lemon. You have to cut off the individual fingers, then zest each one separately.
Into a sterilized glass jar went the zest, the entire bottle of Everclear, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean pod. Once the lid was secured, I set the jar on a back counter and waited.
It didn’t take long. In only about two days’ time, the once clear alcohol had taken on a deep yellow color.
After six weeks, I whipped up some simple syrup by heating 1/3 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar. Once the simple syrup cooled, I added it to the jar, along with 2 cups of vodka to help mellow the mixture. Then I set the jar back on the counter and waited again.
Two weeks later, I strained the mixture, then decanted it into bottles, which I stuck into the freezer so they would reach the optimal frosty temperature to enjoy my Buddha-cello.
Then, I poured a little into a shot glass and took a sip.
I nearly keeled over.
Oh, don’t get me wrong — it was wonderfully bright with floral and citrus-y flavors, as well as a subtle creamy note from the vanilla. But boy howdy, this stuff is S-T-R-O-N-G!
I could add more vodka to make it a little tamer, if adding more alcohol — albeit a more moderate proof one — makes any sense at all. But because my Buddha’s hand was on the small side, I didn’t want to dilute the mixture too much so that the citron flavor dissipated.
Lisa at Learning to Eat blog likes to add a little whole milk or cream sweetened with sugar to her homemade limoncello to create crema. I tried it that way, too, and it does go down easier that way. I also want to try topping a glass of Buddha-cello with sparkling wine to see what that’s like.
But that’ll have to wait.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a nap.
More: Making Preserved Lemons