Saturday, February 14, 2009


Grammie knew how to do this. She did not do it while I was around, but I asked her about it once in the seventies and she described it for me. I had to get these two recipes in Italy over the last couple of years and adapt it to what she told me way back then. I am quite sure that Grammie never bought a bottle of Everclear in her life! Please note the lemon tree in the yard on Via Gelso in Malfa.

1 Litre of Everclear alcohol

10 medium to large lemons(try to get them unwaxed or processed in any way.)

1 1/2 litres of water. It is a good idea to bring water to a boil for a couple of minutes to get gasses and chemicals out. Otherwise it might be a good idea to use bottled water or water that has somehow been purified.

3 pounds of white sugar.

Scrub the lemons well. Do not use hot water as you will evaporate some of the oils in the skin.
Take off the lemon zest with a lemon peeler. Do not dig too deep. You want as much yellow and as little white as possible.
Immerse the zest in the alcohol, covered for at least seven days. Try to use a glass container and a glass cover. You might try a large glass jar and cover it with a glass plate. Use plastic wrap to seal it all together.
On day number eight, strain and discard all the solids.
Simmer the sugar and water for about 15 minutes or until you are absolutely sure the sugar is dissolved.
Cool the sugar mix and add to the alcohol.
Pour into pretty glass containers and chill. Keep refrigerated. In Italy they do not worry so much about spoilage, but there is enough organic matter in this to error on the side of caution.
I keep mine in the freezer.

Limoncello number two

Ok, so you cant find Everclear. You could adjust the last recipe a bit by adding more Vodka instead of the Everclear and reducing the water, or try this version if you are not adventurous. This is pretty close to Grammie's description of the process. Mildred, Sis and I tried our damnedest to get some lemon seeds from the tree in Grammie's childhood home's front yard. We made tons of lemonade. We all liked the lemonade, but the real issue was finding a mature seed. It never happened! All the seeds were immature. I should have had the presence of mind to look for dropped fruit, but sometimes you are just dumb about such things.

15 well scrubbed lemons.

2 750 ml vodka(the highest proof you can find)

4 cups of sugar

5 cups of water.

Zest the lemons thinly

In a large all glass container, put one of the bottles of vodka and the zest.(drink the other bottle of Vodka)(NO, NOT REALLY)

Let it sit sealed for 10-40 days. (this is about the color and intensity of flavor) in a cool place.

In a pan, make a syrup from the sugar and water and boil.

Cool and add to the alcohol along with the second bottle of alcohol.

Allow it to rest ten to fourteen days.

Bottle as in the first recipe.

You can substitute any citrus peel that you like for this.

Orange cordial?

This is a big recipe, so you might want to cut it down a bit.

5 litres of good rose wine.

Add 1 litre of Vodka.

2 pounds of sugar(you might try to pound this in a mortar, but you could just be vigilant about this dissolving.

Add the zest and juice of 7 untreated Seville oranges.

Leave to ferment as above for up to forty days. Stir it occasionally.

Strain and serve cold or bottle and refrigerate.

White wine will work for this, but the color will be softer. How about using blood oranges?!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bum's Ruhbarb Wine Grammie Cafarella

Here is a note from Grammie to Paul McLaughlin in answer to his request for a recipe for Ruhbarb Wine.

"Dear Paul,
This is for Bum's Ruhbarb wine. Cut Ruhbarb in small pieces. Cover with boiling water. Let stand overnight. Strain next morning. To every quart of juice: add a cup of sugar. Let it stand as long as it ferments. When it stops, bottle it up and seal.
Good Luck
Mary R.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Tomato Wine posted by Mildred Cafarella Sinor

6 lbs ripe tomatoes
l lb seedless raisins
1 gal lukewarm water
6 lbs sugar
2 yeast cakes

Quarter tomatoes, add sugar, raisins and yeast, (dissolved in 1 cup warm water). Add 1 gallon warm water and stir this mixture once a day for 14 days, strain and let sit for one week. Allowing it to sit will give a very clear wine. Bottle, being careful not to stir up the settlings from the bottom.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grammie's Wine Posted by Nancy Cafarella Bailey

I think that you are on your own with this one. I like it as a document, but I wonder if anyone will get a bottle of wine out of it. I suppose that those of you who have made wine in the past will get the gist of this. Please let me know if anyone uses this recipe successfully.
The photo is when Nancy came up to Houlton, Maine to take Grammie back to Medford. Mom and Grammie had been getting on each others' nerves for awhile and Grammie decided to go back to her home on Palmer Street in Medford where she lived with Aunt May quite happily, I think, till her death. Click on the photo to see a close-up. To read this, do the whole vertical page first. Then go to the horizontal page and start on the right side. Then do the left. The bottom two lines all the way across are last. Grammie talks about having her mother with her in this letter, that puts this before 1961 when her mother died. She would just have moved in to the house on Pleasant Street when this was written.