Limoncello: Taste the Sunshine!




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Limoncello is one of those wonderful things that is significantly better when it is home made than store bought.  This traditional Italian liquor is delicious when poured over ice cubes and sipped at the end of a long hot day, or sipped straight in the dead of winter, savoring the warm sun flavor.

The trick to making good limoncello is patience.  The longer you can stand to wait with the lemons infusing in the liquor, the better it will taste.  Many Californians prefer to make their limoncello with Meyer lemons, because of their fragrance and sweet flavor, although traditionally it is made with Lisbon lemons in Europe. 

2 750 ml bottles vodka, or other inexpensive, clear liquor (grappa is traditional)
20-30 fresh picked lemons
2-3 cups water
2-3 cups sugar

Step 1: Find Lemons

The best lemons are ones that have unblemished skin.  The fresher they are, the more volatile oils (meaning: flavor!) there will be in their skin, so if you can use a service like Neighborhood Fruit to locate a lemon tree nearby that you can go pick from.  You need 20-30, depending on size and the quality of their skin.

In this instructable, we're showing the process with Meyer lemons, but you should try Eurekas, Lisbons and even other fragrant-skinned fruit and see how the flavor changes!

Step 2: Seperate Pith From Peel

Using a sharp paring knife, cut the peel away from the white, bitter pith. 

Step 3: Combine Peels With Booze

Put the peels in a large glass jar and add the vodka.

Step 4: Patiently Wait 3 Months (or More!)

Put the large jar of liquor away in a place where the sun won't reach it, and then wait.  The longer you wait, the more flavor the lemon peels will impart.  If you're really impatient, you can try it after a month, but it's best to wait at least 3 months.

Using a sieve, filter out the lemon bits (squeezing them to get all the flavor out of them).

Make and Add Simple Syrup
Mix equal parts water and turbinado sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar melts and becomes liquid  (use more sugar if you want it really sweet).  Add it to the jar of booze and lemons to taste and wait a week to a month. The more you add, the less "boozy" your limoncello will be.

Decant the limoncello into bottles.  Most people say "wait another week", but go ahead and taste it now, it's good, eh?

Chill the limoncello in the freezer to serve extremely cold.



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      10 Discussions

      No, maybe I will. It was an experiment that tasted good, but the texture was a bit to soft. I guess I'll have to experiment a bit further before I can make an I'ble of it.

      It has not been my experience that it gets diluted.  Oddly, the commercially made stuff is cloudy, and much yellower.  I always assumed that this was because they added food coloring.

      If you take up limonene in alcohol it will "crash-out" if diluted, I was curious as to the oily-content. I'm inclined to think that commercial stuff is coloured.



      Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

      I made a batch with everclear, but used non-organic lemons. They dye the outer most skin of the lemons so mine came out very yellow.

      I've had it both ways, and I much prefer the diluted down 195 proof stuff.

      I left the bottle with my brother (he had a bad cold, and this was ever so soothing to his throat) and need to make another batch.

      I did my 9 lemon batch with a standard 4-sided grater, using the small grate. I then washed down the tool with the everclear to recover all remaining lemon oil

      Filter out all the rinds with a coffee filter.

      Next time I'm making up shot glasses made from ice.


      9 years ago on Introduction

      We had alcohol free lemoncello in Boston last summer.  Probably another word for that would be sorbet.  It was very refreshing.  Recently we bought a micro plane zester.  Somehow it stops zesting at the white giving you only the very outermost skin.  We've made a lot of lemon desserts now that we don't get chunks of lemon skin. 

      In the old country they don't bother with preparing the skins.  They squeeze the juice out and dump the rinds in alcohol for 15 days. 

      1 reply