Limoncello Success!

by Natalie P.

June 14, 2007 | Filed Under Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | 2 Comments

At the request of one of my readers, I shall post my limoncello recipe – or as close to a recipe as I get – the bf will tell you that to me, a “recipe” is merely a set of guidelines, and very rough ones at that.  (I find it oddly entertaining to see him devouring some meal I have made with great enthusiasm, only to stop, look up at me with a look of longing and distress, and ask rhetorically, “We’re never having this again, are we?”). What can I say? Each creation is a unique masterpiece, never reproduced exactly the same way twice.

That being said, here is as close to a recipe as I can give, and it’s not mine, mind you…  It comes from a source in Rome.

First, get something as close to pure drinking alcohol as you can: Alcool in Canada, Everclear in the US.   Pour it into a large jar with a lid you can seal tightly.  Don’t use Vodka – it’s too diluted at only 40% alcohol.

Next, get about 12-15 large, ripe yellow lemons. They have to be all yellow – no green on them.  The thicker the skin the better. If they aren’t organic, clean them well with a good veggie cleanser that removes pesticide residue but don’t scrub them too hard or you lose the vital oils needed for the limoncello.  Make sure the lemons are well rinsed and dried, and then using a vegetable peeler, peel off the zest – trying to get none of the white pith. You’ll find your hands feel kind of oily after a bit. There is a lot of oil in citrus.  Put the peels into the jar with the alcohol and seal it tightly.  Leave it for about 2 weeks until all the colour is out of the skins and the alcohol is a nice bright yellow. (some people say to leave the skins in for up to a month, but I found mine was fantastic after just two weeks.)

As for the leftover lemons – juice them, strain out the pulp, reserve the juice and freeze it or mix with lots of sugar and keep in the fridge in prep for the next phase.

The final results!

After the two week period,  strain the alcohol into another container through a coffee filter.  On the stove mix some water (about two to four cups) with about 8 to 10 cups of sugar (or more) – this is where you really have to do it to taste.  If you want less strong limoncello, use more water. Heat the water and sugar and get it to dissolve into a syrupy consistency. Then add some of the remaining lemon juice. The more you add, the less sweet it is – you have to decide what your preference is in terms of taste. Stir to get it to mix thoroughly.  Let cool and then mix with your lemon-infused alcohol and mix thoroughly.  The result is wonderful. 

Mine was ready yesterday, (you can see the finished product in the photo), so we chilled it overnight and tasted the results tonight – fabulous. 

Though I’d have to say that this batch is about 60% alcohol – the commercial Limoncello is only about 20-25% alcohol.

How do you drink Limoncello? It is a sweet after-dinner cordial, best served deeply chilled (store in the freezer until ready to use), straight up in a liqueur glass.  If you chill it in the freezer it tends to have a more cloudy appearance – the photo is right after we mixed in the sugar-syrup.

(And yes, that yellow colour is entirely from the lemon peels!)

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2 comments so far
  1. Mike June 14, 2007 8:34 pm

    This is very similar to a recipe that my wife uses from time to time – we used a 100 proof vodka for ours, but I like the way it sounds with the Everclear. I found that even with the 100 proof, it would freeze in the .. well .. freezer. We’re going to try your recipe now.

    Thanks :-)

  2. Natalie P. June 14, 2007 10:44 pm

    Remember that 100 proof Vodka is only 50% alcohol. Everclear is 190 proof (which is about as close to 100% as you can get legally).


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