Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homemade Limoncello

Yields: 9 250ml bottles
Time: 3 months

Have you ever tried limoncello? Its a sweet, but strong lemon flavored liqueur, originating from Italy.
It is used for everything from dessert to after dinner drinks, but if you've ever seen a bottle at the local liquor aisle, it is not cheap. Essentially its just sweetened lemon infused grain alcohol, nothing difficult, so I decided that I wanted to make some for myself.

I researched recipes online, and came up with a combination of a few that I thought sounded best.


15 organic lemons. I used a mixture of regular and Meyer lemons since they were in season. You're relying on the peel of the lemon- so spring for the organic variety- otherwise you'll be infusing your booze with chemicals.
1 750ml bottle of everclear 90proof
1 750ml bottle of vodka
4 cups of sugar
4 cups of water


Carefully peel the yellow part of the lemon off, with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to peel the pith (white part) off with it, as it is bitter.

Place peels into a large glass container with tight fitting lid. I used a jug that is used for making small batch beer, but any gallon sized glass jar would do.

Then pour over the peels both bottles of liquor. Shake it up a bit.

Now the long and anxious wait begins. 40 days, at least. Once a week or so give it a good swirl, and keep it in a dark cool place.

At 40 days open her up and take a piece of lemon peel out. It should snap like a potato chip, and be nearly colorless. If not - put it back for another week and try again. You really want all the essential oils to infuse the liquor.

Once its ready, strain the lemon peels from the liquor using a fine mesh strainer lined with paper towels, or cheesecloth.

Heat up 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar to a boil, and the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool completely. Add it to the lemon liquor in the original glass jar. I'm impatient - so I used an ice bath.

When you add the simple syrup to the infused liquor it becomes the solid yellow - almost orange juice in appearance, limoncello you are probably more familiar with. It is beautiful.  

It will need to age and mellow with the simple syrup mixture for 40 more days. I know more waiting.... Thats why you'll want to have multiple batches going to always have some available.

After the 40 days the limoncello has mellowed enough for bottling. I purchased these cute 250 ml (8.5oz) bottles from http://www.save-on-crafts.com/glassbottles.html for $20 a case to bottle my limoncello. Then it can be gifted, or I can store a bottle in the freezer without taking up too much room.
I should also note: many of the recipes that I read stated that additional aging is necessary to create the best tasting limoncello, and aging for up to 6 additional months is recommended.

Thats it! You can also try this recipe using any citrus fruit - lime, grapefruit, oranges... a combination of citrus...the possibilities are endless!

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