Like caffé, Limoncello is a quintessential Italian libation. If you have never had the pleasure of trying Limoncello, it is a very strong after-dinner liquore made from the skin of lemons. It is sweet, refreshing and can sooth that stomach ache you get from over-eating. Served in tiny chilled glasses, limoncello is so strong that you’ll be knocked off your feet if you have more than a little. For many who have traveled to Italy, this syrupy, bright yellow liquor conjures up visions of hot summer evenings, large delicious meals and the Amalfi coast.
What you may not know, is that limoncello is incredibly easy to make yourself! It is a long process, but with only four ingredients, it is also very simple. Here is how to make your very own authentic limoncello, right in your own kitchen. You will wind up with almost two liters of limoncello, so, have enough bottles clean and ready. Smaller bottles are great for gift giving. *Make sure to use organic lemons, as this is made from soaking the peel in alcohol*
6-8 organic lemons
1 bottle grain alcohol (750 mL)
1 kilo (2.2 lbs) sugar
1 L water
The first step is to soak the peels. This is what takes the most time, as you need to leave the lemon peels in the alcohol for 6-8 days.
Start by carefully peeling the lemon skins, making sure to only peel the yellow part, avoiding the white pith that can make it bitter. Drop the peels into a large glass container. This can be a pitcher, bowl or a lidded container, but make sure to use glass.
Cover the peels with the grain alcohol (Everclear works very well, but if not available, you can use plain vodka), stirring to make sure they are all submerged in alcohol. Cover the container well to prevent the alcohol from evaporating and store in a cabinet for 6-8 days, stirring or shaking once every day or so.
As time passes, you will notice the bright yellow color of the lemon pass from the peels to the alcohol, until the peels are devoid of color and the alcohol is a vibrant yellow. This is the sign it is ready!
Strain the alcohol with a fine mesh strainer and discard the peels. Cover the infused alcohol to prevent evaporation.
The next step is to make a simple syrup to mix with the infused alcohol. Combine a liter of water with a kilo of sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 5-10 minutes until thickened and slightly golden. Cool.
Pour the cooled syrup into the infused alcohol and stir well to combine. You can, at this point, taste the mixture, adjusting the quantity of syrup to your liking. I usually don't add all the syrup because I don't like it too sweet. This is up to you. Pour the mixture into clean bottles and store in the freezer.
When your limoncello is chilled to a cloudy, viscose consistency, it is ready for drinking!