Homemade Limoncello: A Personal Recipe from Italy
It took me months to perfect this recipe and duplicate that amazing, authentic Italian flavor. This makes great holiday gifts or just delicious summer sipping!
"When life gives you lemons, grab some vodka and make Limoncello"
So I tasted Limoncello for the first time during a trip to Italy in 2018. The taste was indescribable! I'd never had Limoncello before so like an amateur, I took a swig of it instead of sipping. Lets just say I learned real quick!
After catching my breath and restoring my dignity from embarrassment, I become determined to find out the recipe to this 100 year old drink. We found a small winery where they also made their own Limoncello and the owner was happy to share recipe tips and told me to "Make it my own family recipe"...At least that's what Google Translate said he told me.
Now if you aren't familiar with Limoncello, it's an Italian liqueur that is usually homemade and served just after dinner. This incredible drink is served chilled which helps to smooth the intensity of the liqueur and compliments the unique flavor. In Italy, Limoncello is traditionally made from Sorrento Lemons which are usually medium-large in size and are more fragrant that traditional lemons. They are also less bitter and more tart, with visible oil glands.
Unfortunately, they are nearly impossible to find in the states and also very expensive to import. A good alternative that's pretty easy to find are Meyer Lemons which can be found at Whole Foods or other local grocery stores.
This is probably the most important tip: When peeling the lemons, be very careful to only peel the Zest (the yellow part of the lemon peel); you don't want any of the White Pith. It may be best to use a sharp peeler or paring knife.
You're going to need a 80-96oz glass container that is sealable. Do NOT use any sort of plastic container under any circumstances, it will crack and spill everywhere.
Use rubber gloves! You're going to be peeling 10-12 lemons and it will stain your fingers.
You're going to need Pure Grain Alcohol, also known as 'Everclear'. Yes I know, this is the same alcohol we all tried in college and immediately regretted our life decisions. Now that we are done recovering from college memories, please know that you cannot taste it at all and it will be diluted. The purpose is to extract more lemon flavor from the peels and it makes the drink much smoother.
Keep your empty wine bottles and use them to store your Limoncello.
Be patient and do not try the Limoncello until it is time. It will be worth the wait.
10 Meyer Lemons (Medium in size)
3 ¾ Cups Water
2 ½ Cups Sugar
1 (750-ml) bottle Pure Grain alcohol (Everclear)
Using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove the zest peel from the lemons, remember to avoid any pith while peeling. Place the lemon peels in a glass container or pitcher (Only use glass).
Pour the alcohol into the pitcher to soak the lemon peels and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. The lemon peels will need to soak in the alcohol for 5 days at room temperature. Swirl the pitcher once a day to mix up the ingredients.
After 5 days, it's time to make the simple syrup! In medium or large saucepan, stir the water and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. You now have simple syrup.
Allow the simple syrup to cool completely before pouring it into the alcohol mixture. Cover the pitcher again and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8-10 hours. And now we have Limoncello!
Carefully strain the Limoncello through a strainer and discard any peels.
Transfer the Limoncello to resealable bottles and freeze for 4 hours.
Serve the Limoncello in chilled flutes or glasses. Enjoy!