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Photo courtesy Anita.

If there’s one thing I adore about the foodieblogosphere, it’s how inspiration spreads like ooey gooey jam over the peanut butter-covered surface of the web. Stephanie drew sufficient inspiration from my previous posts on making limoncello to pursue a batch or ten of her own. When I saw Stephanie after her first foray into ‘cellifying, she spoke of doing a grapefruitcello, and thus the inspiration came full circle.

Many of you may already be aware of my almost pathological aversion to orange, but I really adore grapefruit — all varieties, from the face-twistingly sour to pleasantly sweet-tart. I love the complex bitter-sour-sweetness of its flesh.

Straight away I made my way to the farmer’s market the following Saturday and found a booth bursting with glorious globes of various shapes and sizes. "So," I asked both naïvely and curiously, "which grapefruit has the best flavor in the zest?" They were stumped. So I grabbed an Oro Blanco and a couple pink-fleshed puppies and lugged them home.

Now, in my past few rounds of playing the ‘cello, I’ve learned a thing or three. First, as stated before, Everclear (the 151-proof stuff; we can’t buy the rocket-fuel 190 proof in California) is the way to go. Second, I like my ‘cellos a hair on the bitter side, not so cloyingly sweet, so I use a grater rather than a Microplane to extract a little pith along with my zest. And lastly, I dial down the sweetness even a touch more by making a simple syrup with a 4:5 ratio of sugar to water, rather than a standard 1:1.

The Pompelmocello, as I dubbed it (pompelmo being Italian for grapefruit), was a success. Surprisingly flavorful, it started off with a bright, orangey note, after which a pronounced grapefruit flavor came to rise, tailing off with a pleasantly lemony finish — the full spectrum of citrusy goodness. It was sweet without being too sweet, with an intruiging bitterness that tickled the sides of the tongue.

The ‘cello plays on — I currently have a massive batch (as in, almost five liters!) of limoncello going, a cuvee if you will of Lisbon lemons from Hillsborough and meyers from Potrero Hill. My standby recipe follows after the jump. Cin cin!


2 750-ml bottles Everclear
3 large grapefruit, preferably organic
4 c. sugar
5 c. water

With a medium-fine grater (but not a Microplane), grate the skin of the grapefruit until all the zest is removed; try not to get to the point where you’re grating pure pith. Place gratings in a large, airtight container and cover with the two bottles of Everclear. Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for around 10 days, agitating daily.

In a medium nonreactive pan, add the sugar and water and place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Do not bring the syrup to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Strain the grapefruit infusion first through a fine sieve, then through a coffee filter to remove all particulates. Mix equal parts of the infusion and simple syrup; you should end up with a little extra, maybe about 250 ml, of the syrup. If you prefer your ‘cello a little sweeter and more dilute, feel free to add it all. Seal in an airtight container and allow to stand for another 10 days or so, agitating daily. Pour into 250-ml or 500-ml mason-top bottles, label prettily and give to friends, reserving at least one bottle for your own enjoyment.

Make a whatevercello by replacing the zest of grapefruit with any other citrus. More is more — don’t worry about adding too much!

This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. wow, this was a great idea! I just started to make a batch of candied citron/cedro peel but now i am going to go and get some for my cedrocello! Thanks Sean for the inspiration!

  2. Ilva: That sounds just delightful! And I know you’re no stranger to playing the ‘cello.
    Greg: Vodka is fine so long as you can find 151-proof. If you use standard vodka, it gets too dilute by the time you mix down with the syrup, and it freezes solid in the freezer. And after all, anythingcello tastes best frozen.

  3. I’d suggest a swap for comparative tasting, but mine’s all gone! Maybe you can swipe a sip from Sam or Anita, who were the only giftees.

  4. I realize you’re an orange-phobe…
    We made the most *amazing* mandarin orange-cello (we called it Mo-Cho) at Christmastime. If you ever change your mind, I’ve got a bottle in the cellar with your name on it. 🙂

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  6. Love it!! Sounds sooo good and dangerous! When I had a cherry tree -wait, when I had a yard-I made cherry vodka infusion. It didn’t last long at all. This sounds like a very refreshing treat!

  7. Wow, that *is* a great idea! I also am not a big fan of the mighty orange and like grapefruit much, much more. So, you are not alone in this big orange-lovin’ world!

  8. You should not put any pith in the limoncello, arancello or other concoction. It ruins the limoncello and as you said, changes the taste of it – therefore making a different product. also, smirnoff 100 proof is much more palatable to most people’s drinking tastes, if you want the old Italian “lightning bolt” hit, use 150 everclear.
    Jeff Forward

  9. turned on to this site by a friend….been looking for something to do with our 150 grapefruit trees!

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