Limoncello is the Italian word referring to an intensely lemon-flavored liqueur most famously associated with and produced in Sorrento, the Amalfi coast, and the island of Capri, but also very popular throughout all of Italy.
Limoncello is made from lemon zest (strictly non-treated), water, alcohol, and sugar. It is a beverage usually consumed after meals, but is a perfect drink for every occasion.
Preparation is easy but meticulous: if executed with accuracy, in a bit less than three months, the traditional yellow liquor will be ready to be enjoyed as an aperitif or a digestive, before or after a meal.
- 10-12 organic lemons
- 1 liter (US 33 oz) pure ethly alcohol (95%)
- 600 grams (3 cups) sugar
- 2 liters (US 66 oz) water
- Rinse and dry the lemons.
- Peel the lemons with a sharp knife or lemon zester, being careful to use only the yellow part of the peel, as the white part will make your limoncello bitter.
- (The peeled lemons can then be squeezed and the juice frozen for summer granita)
- Place the lemon zest in a glass container, add the alcohol, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
- Hide it in a cool dark place for a month.
- Remember to check on it now and then and give the jar a little shake to distribute the lemon oil through the alcohol; after only a few days it will already take on a lovely yellow color.
- Bring the 2 liters of water to a simmer in a large pot, and pour in the sugar.
- Stir to completely dissolve.
- Set aside to completely cool.
- Strain the alcohol & lemon peel mixture through a fine sieve.
- Strain the alcohol liquid again through a paper towel or filter-I do this by first rinsing my strainer, lining it with a dampened paper towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and placing it over a wide mouth jar or over a funnel.
- In a large glass container, mix the cool sugar syrup with the alcohol.
- Put the jar of limoncello back in its cool dark hiding place for at least a week and up to another month.
- If the mixture is cloudy, you will need to filter it again.
- Taste the limoncello. If it seems right, then it’s ready to be bottled (if not, add more sugar syrup to taste.)
- Pour the limoncello into smaller bottles and keep one in the freezer for drinking, while the others can be stashed away for future consumption or gifts.
- The limoncello seems to mellow as it ages, so the longer you keep it the better it gets.