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Instant Low Sugar Limoncello

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Through lucky experimentation I've discovered that drying / dehydrating citrus before infusing in vodka makes for a very quick limoncello (or other citrus-cello) that requires very little sugar.

Who's got time for slow food when booze is concerned? While this is not instant in the Tang sense of the word, it does cut weeks / month off the traditional limoncello recipe.  Lemon liquor American style! It is a crowd pleaser among old tyme limoncello drinkers including a commercial lemon grower who has enjoyed plenty of this elixir in his day.

In fact, simply by soaking dried lemon or orange peels in vodka or other alcohol, you can make an intensely flavorful sugar-free liquor. While I haven't tried it, I imagine it's likely that, for those on sugar free diets, you could add a touch of sweetener if desired, to the lemon liquor.

Makes a great Instant Low Sugar Lemonade Kit too!

Soapbox: Please only use LOCAL or domestic lemons if possible!

Total time: 16 hours including dehydration and infusion; a few more hours or days definitely does not hurt. This is the bare minimum.

You will need:
1) jars
2) 4 meyer lemons per jar (or other lemons, as long as they are very juicy)
3) sugar
4) vodka or everclear

Equipment: A dehydrator or oven
 
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Step 1: Slice and Sugar the Lemons or Peel

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There are two possible approaches to this project, and I encourage you to try each to see which you prefer:

Method 1: Lemon Slices
a) With a sharp knife slice lemons to about 1/8 " thick slices, removing any seeds, trying to maintain as much juice as possible.
b) Either dip each slice in sugar or place in a pan and douse with sugar, to coat the pieces.
c) Place in dehydrator and dehydrate for at least 6 hours at 135 degrees. (You can also use these slices to dip into chocolate or to chop up for baked goods - or even eat them like candy!)

Or you can slowly dehydrate at low heat in the oven (I don't have specific instructions for that.)

The lemons are ready when they seem dried...not juicy. You are concentrating the flavor so the drier they are the more intense they will be in your booze. I usually don't dry them until "dried fruit" dryness though.

Method 2: Lemon Peel:

This is more traditional, as limoncello usually is made with zest.

a) Thinly slice the exterior peel from lemons then dehydrate.
b) You'll make a simple syrup, or simply add sugar, into the vodka when adding the peel.

I realize for someone who hasn't done this it might be frustrating that I'm not giving exact amounts. I guesstimate and it always comes out delicious.

Step 2: Add the Booze & Age

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Refrigerate, just to be safe.
In just a few hours you'll notice great lemon flavor!

Shown here is the booze before the lemons have infused the vodka.

Rather than remove the lemons, it makes a beautiful presentation to leave them in. As the alcohol gets lower it doesn't hurt to top it off, such as if you're having a partay and want to extend the fun.

Gift it: MYO label, add a little twine, and you've got an Instant Limoncello Kit. Perfect for lemonade too!

Enjoy, hack, and share!
Mikel991 year ago
Sounds great ....although sugar is verbotten on a low carb diet. Will try this with splenda and see what happens.
drewgrey4 years ago
I grow lemons in my greenhouse and have used some for lemoncello. We used honey instead of sugar and called it ............B.stinger
sheldon784 years ago
Cool, I wanna try this as well when I have some spare time.
eye.gee4 years ago
I finally got around to trying this. I dried the sugar coated lemon slices in the oven at 200 degrees and the sugar carmelized. It gives the lemoncello a dark color, but it smells pretty good. I used 153 proof grain alcohol. How long do you infuse it?Mine still has a very strong alcohol smell.

I also tried it with grapefruit peels. With those I just peeled the grapefruit and then cut away as much of the white pith as I could before coating it in sugar and drying it. It didn't go dark like the lemons for some reason.

Now I just need to know how long before I can taste it!
LuckyMouse4 years ago
Wow! Excellent! I love limoncello!!!
eye.gee4 years ago
I love this! I picked up a dehydrator at a yard sale last summer to dry apples from my neighbor's tree. I'm excited to have another use for it. I love your gift presentation, too. Can't wait to try it.
tekija4 years ago
Have to try this. Originally limonicello is mady inflating only the lemon peels and not the inside. It should give it diffirent kind of taste.
WoundedEgo4 years ago
This is no diet drink, though, because alcohol turns into sugar in your blood. Alcohol is very fattening.
yes, alcohol does turn to sugar. however, vodka has the least effect for diabetics because it has no additional sugars other than the alcohol itself. if the trick with the Splenda works, this would be great for diabetics, (as always, with moderation).
I don't think it is intended to be a diet drink, just a lower  sugar method. Also, alcohol does not turn to sugar in your blood. The reason you blood sugar level can go up when you drink is because your liver processes the alcohol first since it is considered a toxin and the sugar remains in your blood until the alcohol is processed. Also alcohol in moderation is not fattening. I am not an expert in these things but here is an article about it.

cchamlin4 years ago
Hey! as a big limoncello fan, i was pretty excited to give this a shot! however, once i dredged my lemon slices in sugar and put them in the dehydrator, the sugar drew out so much liquid, I came back to find a giant puddle of sticky lemon syrup creeping across my kitchen table :( Did I do something wrong? how do you avoid this problem?

thanks!
susie (author)  cchamlin4 years ago
Hey there,

Were they very ripe lemons? I've had some dripping but not that much (and I LOVE eating the dehydrated syrup that drips to the bottom of the hydrator...the best lemon sour candy.)

Maybe drain the slices in a colander before dipping them in the sugar?

I forgot something else I do sometimes. After dehydrating, I'll put the lemon slices in a bag with more sugar and toss them around. Then if you're giving someone a jar with the lemons, without liquid, they look really cool. :)
Rayney cchamlin4 years ago
Usually when I dehydrate citrus I skip the sugar dredging step if it is called for then add sugar afterwards.

As soon as I can I am going to try this recipe using Splenda. When I do I will try to remember to post the outcome. :D
sniffydogs4 years ago
Very nice!
speedhump4 years ago
If you love Limoncello you must add this verse to that old favorite!

Eye - eye, eye,eye Si, Si Senora My sister Malinda she pissed out the winda
All over my brand new Fedora.

I LIKE LIMONCELLO, BUT MY ???? TURNS BRIGHT YELLOW,
SO GIVE ME THAT GOOD OLD VINO etc.
scoochmaroo4 years ago
Ok yes, I might make this for my brother! (I hope he's not reading this. . . )