Friday, February 23, 2007

Limoncello + three weeks

Swirl the limoncello another time. It is definitely picking up a bit of the color. Another week or two and I will add the sugar water.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

On the Web

Well I've started to make the limoncello, and I'm getting together the gear I'll need to start up homebrewing. That is I'm going through my old gear, throwing stuff out and replacing things as need be. Also, I'm acquiring a few new things. And, of course, I'm blogging it, using the blog to store my brew logs. I'd also like to store recipes on-line and keep track of them via the web.

This has led to an expanded education on computer systems. I'd like to store the recipes, in BeerXML format, on my own web space provided by Earthlink. This has turned out to be difficult because when I put my recipes on the web site in XML format, Firefox sees them as pure text files, has no idea they are XML. This, it turns out, is because the server has to be configured to report that the MIME type is either text/xml or better yet application/xml and apparently Earthlink is reporting the MIME type to be text/plain. So I need get Earthlink to change this. This should be fun.

Limoncello + two weeks

Ok, it's been two weeks since I peeled the lemons and added them to the grain alcohol. I swished the liquor around a bit to mix things up a bit. It does seem to be picking up a bit of the yellow color, although that is hard to tell, what with all the lemon peel.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Homebrew Software

Well as I start to get ready to resume beer brewing I'm also going to be evaluating a few different software tools for developing, storing and tracking recipes. I've got Qbrew, BeerSmith and ProMash. Now Qbrew has the advantage of being Open Source and is therefore free. A hard price to beat. So far it is also the one I've looked at the most. It seems to be a bit less extensive in its abilities than the other two. ProMash, in particular, would seem to be able to do anything. Qbrew also has an annoying behavior in that changes to the database (what malts or hops are available) do not immediately show up in the program. When I add something I have to shut down and restart. It is, however, easy to use and will output the recipe in BeerXML format, which I like. I want to try a put together a set of tools, (XML, XSL and the like, perhaps including a MySQL database) for storing and displaying recipes. Using the BeerXML standard would be cool.

ProMash seems almost too complex, even intimidating, but I haven't looked at it very much so far. ProMash is billed as being usable for professional brewing, so it's imposing nature shouldn't be surprising. Also, it does not output in any XML format, although there exists a VB tool for converting ProMash text format into BeerXML format. ProMash also costs about $20, it is not free.

The BeerSmith tool also costs about $20. I've only started looking at it today. BeerSmith seems to be pretty easy to use, somewhat less imposing than ProMash. It also, like Qbrew, will output into BeerXML format. It has a nice feature of keeping up with inventory and putting together a shopping list. ProMash can do much the same.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Limoncello is an Italian liquor originally from the Amalfi region, near Naples. I lived for a couple of years in Naples and was introduced to it there. It is a wonderful drink, best served chilled, cold really, after dinner. The flavor comes from the zest of fresh lemons, so it has a strong, lemony flavor. It is also easy to make.

I remember somewhat the recipe told to me by my neighbor in Italy, but I'm also basing my first run on a few recipes I got off the net. To see the source I'm deriving this from go here, here and here.

I actually started this recipe last week, but did not get the blog up until today. So much for timing.

Batch started on Thursday, February 1, 2007.
So first you peel the zest off of 15 lemons. This is no minor feat. Especially as all the recipes say that you need to leave no white on the zest. For someone inexperienced at peeling lemons, this is pretty much impossible. If by no white, they really mean no white, this batch will not turn out well. I left very little, but I'm only human. That will be something to note in the final product. One good thing about the whole enterprise is that you end up with 15 peeled lemons. This is perfect for fresh lemonade, which is, in fact, wonderful. Once excellent tip for making lemonade was to add the sugar by mixing it into hot water, letting that cool and then adding it to the juiced lemons. This makes for excellent lemonade.

Back to the limoncello. After peeling the lemons the zest is put into a sealed glass jar with 750 ml of grain alcohol. I used Gem Clear brand 190 proof. Some recipes use vodka, but I don't think that is really authentic. Grain alcohol is right.

Thursday, February 8, 2007
Tonight I stir the mixture up a bit. This should be done about once a week for the first four weeks of sitting. After four weeks or so, I'll add the sugar water.