If you happen to have a Cantaloupe sitting in your counter, and you want to preserve the summer flavors for just a bit longer, you have to make this Rosemary Meloncello liqueur. Upside of making it at home, you get to customize the flavors that you can’t find anywhere else!
This is a perfect after dinner treat to pull out and serve family and friends for the holidays, they’ll be talking about it for weeks!
I was teaching a class on Melon Sorbet to celebrate the end of Summer and we had these Cantaloupes on hand inching towards being overripe. Rather than throwing them away, I wanted to show you this really cool alternative to Limoncello.
Meloncello, like Limoncello, is drunk as a Digestif after lunch and dinner. While Limoncello may be more mainstream, it actually belongs to a class of fruit liqueurs steeped in Vodka and sweetened with Simple Syrup.
Traditional Meloncello adds cream and vanilla into the mix, creating a cream liqueur similar to Baileys Irish Cream. However, I’ve found that creamy liqueurs can be very hit or miss and leave a sour aftertaste due to the lactic acid.
Cue why you should be reading this:
This Meloncello has a few things more going for it!
- First of which, its Vegan- no dairy products of any kind were used in the making of this product. Resulting in a clean cantaloupe flavor that tastes like the peak of summer. Which is perfect for vegetarian, or lactose intolerant diets.
- It is also infused with Rosemary: making it a much more complex cocktail! And like a good digestif, the herbal notes perfume the sweetness of the cantaloupe and help settle the stomach after dinner.
How to make Meloncello or any kind of cello
The whole point of making any of these liqueurs at home is to customize them to your tastes. Even in Italy, the best tasting meloncello are made at home. So experiment with the sweetness, different fruits, and other flavor components to make something truly unique.
This whole process can be broken down into 3 steps:
The New Version
Blending the fruit into a puree and blend it into the alcohol. Let it steep. Which will take about 24 hours, and strain the small fruit fibers from the liquid. Breaking down the fruit into smaller and smaller particles releases more aromatic compounds into the Vodka faster-making the process quicker.
The Traditional Version
In the traditional process, you allow large chunks of fruit to infuse slowly into the alcohol. This process takes around 6 days and the fruit absorbs the alcohol, requiring it to be blended and strained after steeping.
Strain the puree. You can use a spoon and a strainer or a large bowl and a sieve to make the process quicker.
This is where the sugar balance for the fruit comes into play. Up to now you’ve basically made Melon flavored vodka (also good especially in Midori Martinis!). But by adding the dissolved sugars, you make the liqueur.
Blend everything together and store in a bottle and keep it in the freezer. It will not freeze if you did it correctly. And if it freezes, let the bottle thaw in the fridge for 30 minutes and serve.
Pure awesome melon flavor.
Just like Meloncello is an alternative to Limoncello, there are other lesser known fruit liqueurs being produced in Italy based on different fruits and nuts in the year.
- Fragoncello: Strawberries instead of melons.
- Arancello: Using Oranges
- Mandarinetto : Using mandarins
- Nocino: Using Green Walnuts (can be bitter if using too green)
Take a look at the two photos below, look at the liquids, see a difference?
We made two meloncello bottles in this batch to show you the difference between using a stabilizer to homogenize the mixture and what a meloncello without stabilizer looks like. To achieve a clean, uncloudy liquid, we used Propylene Glycol as an emulsifier.
The bottle on the LEFT : we left it alone, without an emulsifier. It is naturally cloudy because lighter particles will gradually float to the top and will swirl when the bottle is moved.
The bottle on the Right: has 1% of the total volume of Propylene Glycol to keep a smoother appearance.
Propylene Glycol is derived from Kelp, and serves as a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer of liquids. Its commonly used in salad dressings to keep different liquids from separating. You can find more info about it here
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This Rosemary Meloncello Recipe bottles the best of summer and saves it for the holidays. Sweet, smooth, and fragrant with Rosemary, it has complex aromas that are the perfect after dinner drink.
For the Rosemary Simple Syrup
- 150 g Sugar
- 150 g Water
- 2 Rosemary Sprigs
For the Cantaloupe Puree
- 400 g chopped Cantaloupes
- 50 g water
5 grams Propylene Glycol food grade
For the Rosemary Simple Syrup
Combine sugar, water, and rosemary sprigs in a pot over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature.
For the Cantaloupe Puree
Blend Cantaloup and water and strain the solids.
Combine Vodka, Cantaloupe puree and simple syrup in a bottle and shake. (Optional) Add Propylene Glycol and shake to combine.
Store in the freezer.
Keywords: Meloncello, Digestif, cocktail, After dinner drink