This homemade limoncello recipe is ideal for the holidays because citrus is in season, it makes a wonderful gift, and it’s easy as peeling lemons and pouring vodka into a jar. It is often served well-chilled from the freezer, neat in a small cocktail glass; however, you can also make some lovely cocktails with it, like a lemon drop. Smooth, sweet and intoxicatingly tasty, this limoncello recipe is a must-try for those with an abundance of lemons such as we have on the Gulf Coast.
What is limoncello?
Limoncello is an Italian digestivo (a.k.a. a digestive, something you drink after a big meal to settle your stomach). It is quite potent, as it’s really just lemon-infused vodka or grain alcohol and simple syrup a.k.a. a liqueur.
Where does limoncello come from?
My first trip to Sorrento Italy I was blown away by the sheer amount of options for the strength. It seems that every single store you went into they would offer you a sample of limoncello or other liqueurs, and by the time you were done shopping you were also quite knackered. It hails from southern Italy, especially around the Amalfi coast. It was there I tried meloncello (which we would probably call cream of cantaloupe) that was life-changing.
What kind of lemons do you use for this limoncello recipe?
I use Meyer lemons because that is what are available to me here on the Gulf Coast, but you can use any lemon. Be sure to use the biggest specimens you can find so that you aren’t peeling for days. I like the juiciness of Meyer lemons and their flavor is unparalleled.
How do you make this limoncello recipe?
First, you peel some lemons, making sure to not get any of the white pith. It might be painstaking at first, but the payoff is a sweet, citrus-forward limoncello with no undertones of bitterness.
Then you combine the peels with a bottle of vodka and let it sit in the cabinet or pantry for a while. After it infuses, you strain out the peels and combine it with simple syrup, bottle and enjoy!
- 7-10 large lemons organic if possible
- 1 750 ml bottle vodka
- 2 cups simple syrup
Wash the lemons with hot water to remove any and pat dry.
With a vegetable peeler, peel each lemon, trying not to dig too deep into the white pith.
After you peel all the lemons, take a paring knife and scrape the white pith off of each peel. This also helps get the oils into your vodka in the marinating step.
Pour vodka in a large, (64 ounces or more) clean glass jar.
Add the lemon peels.
Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least ten days and up to a month.
Shake every couple days.
After at least ten days of infusing and the mixture has a yellow tint, make a simple syrup. Combine 1.5 cups of water with 1.5 cups of granulated sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a low boil. Boil on low for 10-15 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let the syrup cool.
Filter limoncello mixture and discard peels. Add the simple syrup to the limoncello mixture, put the cap on, and shake. Bottle into clean, sterilized bottles of your choice.
Keep your bottle/bottles of limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. Serve ice cold from the freezer.
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