Traditional recipes

Limoncello

Limoncello


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Ingredients

  • Peel from 2 pounds lemons, yellow part only

  • 4 cups 100-proof vodka

  • 1

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 3 cups water

Recipe Preparation

  • Steep the lemon peel in vodka in a large bowl for one week at room temperature.

  • Stir sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; cool. Add to the vodka mixture and stir. Strain the liquid into bottles; seal and and chill the limoncello for one month.

Recipe by Lori de Mori

,

Photos by Wyatt Counts

Reviews Section


The Best Cocktails to Make with Limoncello

You might be used to having a taste of Italy's famous lemon liqueur limoncello at the end of a good meal, but there's no reason to relegate this tasty tipple to digestif status. A bit of limoncello can bring a sweet squeeze of citrus to all sorts of cocktails. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get more limoncello into your cocktail rotation.

Ingredients

1.5 oz Herradura Silver Tequila
.5 oz limoncello
.25 oz amaretto
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz orange juice

Instructions

Shake with ice and serve in a large coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Ingredients

1 oz Limoncello
1 oz vodka
1 Brooklyn Crafted Lemon Lime Ginger Beer

Instructions

Add all the ingredients together in a Julep cup and mix. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a mint sprig.

Ingredients

½ oz. Italicus
½ oz. limoncello
½ oz. Nardini grappa
5 dashes lemon bitters
1 scoop of Oddfellows&rsquo lemon-hibiscus sorbetto
Prosecco to top

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except sorbetto in a shaker with ice and shake. Scoop the sorbetto into a frozen coupe. Strian the cocktail on top and finish with prosecco.

Ingredients

1 oz Don Papa Rum
1 oz Limoncello
1 oz Vermouth Blanc

Instructions

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir for thirty seconds. Pour into a rocks glass over a large piece of ice and zest with a generous peel of lemon.

Ingredients

1.5 oz Maker&rsquos Mark Bourbon
.25 oz Pallini Limoncello
Juice of 3 lemon wedges
1.5 tsp all-natural apricot jam
4 sage leaves
Soda water

Instructions

Pour all ingredients except soda into a shaker tin and muddle. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice and top with soda water. Garnish with fresh sage and/or a twist.

By Kristine Lassor Hopkins of Abattoir

Ingredients

1.25 oz infused lemon vodka*
1.25 oz limoncello
.5 oz homemade lemonade

Instructions

Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain and pour into a martini glass.

*Lemon Vodka: Peel 5-8 large lemons, keep the fruit of the lemons for juicing. Add to 1 bottle of vodka and steep for 1 week, then remove peels.

Ingredients

2 oz New Riff Bourbon
1 oz limoncello
.25 oz peach puree
.25 oz lemon juice
4 dashes peach bitters

Instructions

Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass. Strain and pour in a rocks glass over an ice sphere. Garnish with dehydrated lemon.


Step 1: Lemon Peels

Quickly rinse lemons under cold running water and pat dry.

Using a vegetable peeler or a small sharp knife, peel off the lemon zest as thin as possible. We only need the yellow part.

If you&rsquore using a knife you might happen to cut some white pith together with yellow zest. In this case just trim off as much of white pith a possible. It&rsquos easier to do that holding and running the knife almost horizontally.
Make sure your knife is sharp.

Through years of making limoncello, I&rsquove found that the best way to peel lemons for limoncello is by using a vertical vegetable peeler just like this one. You&rsquoll save yourself quite some time and won&rsquot have to deal with any white spots whatsoever.

Place all the lemon peels in the jar with alcohol.

Make sure to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight.

Leave to macerate for at least 8 days, best 3 weeks.

Step 2: Sugar Syrup

Mix water and sugar in the pot saucepan. On a medium heat continue to stir in the sugar until it&rsquos completely dissolved. Let the syrup to simmer until boiling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Now begins the actual limoncello making process.

Step 3: Mixing Lemon Infused Alcohol & Sugar Syrup

In large saucepan/mixing bow/ or a container add lemon infused alcohol.

Slowly start adding the sugar syrup and stir. Once you&rsquove added 4 cups taste.

Limoncello will be pretty strong. Add more sugar syrup and taste again.

I usually add almost all sugar syrup and limoncello is still full-bodied.

But it&rsquos a good thing that you can decide what your limoncello will taste like.

If it&rsquos too strong, add more sugar syrup to mild the taste, reduce it for a stronger limoncello.

I don&rsquot recommend diluting the alcohol base too much.

What to do with lemons after making limoncello?

Well, I bet there&rsquos no lack of variety when it comes to recipes using lemons.

The only problem is that there&rsquos no recipe with reasonable portion/batch that requires ALL the lemons left making limoncello!

So here&rsquos what I do, and I highly recommend you do too!

It requires zero cooking, zero baking and you&rsquoll enjoy all the lemons flavor at its fullest.

  1. Slice lemons you have left and layer them in a glass jar with sugar. Store in the fridge and use to make lemon tea or lemon water. So easy, so quick and you&rsquoll end up drinking the most flavorful lemon tea for about a month or even more!
  2. Squeeze lemon juice from the lemons, pour it into ice cube tray and freeze. Use as needed to make Salmon Carpaccio, to make Italian Fruit Salad and even whenever you clean and cook fresh artichokes!

What is your favorite way to use lemons after making limoncello? Which one will you try now?

Limoncello Alcohol Content

Authentic Italian homemade limoncello is about 38% vol or 76 Proof.

With this recipe you&rsquoll get about 33-34 % vol Limoncello or 66-68 Proof.

To me, this is the perfect alcohol content that allows you to keep limoncello in the freezer without freezing it.

And if you don&rsquot want to keep it in the freezer but still want to serve chilled you can simply add an ice cube and it&rsquoll lightly dilute it.

Add extra 1/2- 1 cup of water to the sugar syrup to make your limoncello milder (about 30% vol or 60 Proof).

How to store Limoncello

Once you&rsquove reached the perfect flavor, bottle your limoncello in a glass bottle using a funnel.

Even though it doesn&rsquot require refrigeration, I always store limoncello in the freezer!

Why? It&rsquoll have an amazing &ldquocreamy&rdquo texture. Besides, alcohol doesn&rsquot feel that strong and pungent when chilled well.


Related Video

Much better with the 100 proof vodka. Am just getting ready to do more batches.

I did the ever clear. Omigosh. This was a real nasal cleanser. I think I'll either try the vodka route or try the creamy limoncello.

My wife's recipe calls for 1 bottle of 190 proof Everclear, the zest of 15 lemons and three cups of sugar. The higher alcohol content of the Everclear pulls more of the flavor and oils out of the lemon and in less time (1.5 - 2 weeks of steep time). Combine the sugar and 750 ml of distilled water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely. Strain the zest from the lemon infused Everclear and combine with the two mixtures and you're left with 95 proof Lemoncello.

I see that this recipe calls for 10-40 days with plain old vodka. Makes sense. I steep mine for 5-10 days in grain alcohol. The higher alcohol content makes a big difference in how much oil it can get out of those lemon peels. But if I can't find any grain alcohol next year, I will keep the longer steep in mind!

I doubt it will spoil, as the water activity in the simple syrup is relatively low. You may find that the lemon rinds give more water up because of the sugar content and less of their oil, which really lends the lemon flavor to the vodka. I would steep 100 days, check flavor, and continue to steep if desired additional 20-40 days, check again, repeat. Nice to see a limoncello recipe that requires a true steep - many online call for 2 weeks of steeping, and that's just not enough.

When you add the sugar syrup prior to infusing the lemon zest into the alcohol, you dilute the alcohol. I'm no chemist, but I would imagine that by doing you slow down the infusion process significantly. If you don't get any more authoritative feedback than this response, Iɽ double the infusion time -that certainly won't harm the eventual product and it's likely to greatly improve it.

Hope to receive an answer to my question. . . . Prepared the lemoncello recipe from memory. Just realized (too late) that I added the sugar/water syrup to the vodka and rindes all in one step. Will it still infuse? Is this ruined? Will it spoil .


3. Limoncello Spritz

A simple and wonderfully refreshing summer cocktail made from just three ingredients, you’ll definitely enjoy this vinous yet fizzy cocktail! The recipe requires the following:

  • 60 ml (2 Oz) Limoncello
  • 120 ml (4 Oz) Prosecco or sparkling wine
  • 60 ml (2 Oz) Soda Water
  • 1 Lemon Slice
  • 1 Sprig of Mint

Pour the ingredients, starting with the limoncello and finishing with the sparkling wine, into a large wine glass or tall highball filled with ice. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon slice and mint.

You can also use thyme or basil instead of the mint. Similarly, consider using champagne or crémant instead of a prosecco if you prefer something a little drier than prosecco.


Step Five: Add Zest to Liquor

Combine the zest and the filtered liquor into a very clean one gallon glass jar and screw the lid on tight. If the lid isn’t tight enough, put a piece of plastic wrap on the top before screwing on the lid. You can use any glass jar of sufficient size and I have different ones for different purposes.

The one on the above is a basic one that holds an entire batch. I’ve also found good jars at Marshall’s and online . Put a label on the jar that tells you at least the date of when you made it, and include other details about how you made it. I use a label maker to number my batches and track in an Excel sheet what I do differently each time but that’s probably more anal than most people need to be.


What’s the difference between proof and abv (alcohol by volume)?

The words are quite commonly misunderstood and mistakenly used to mean the same thing. Briefly, the word proof goes back to England in the 16th century, when gunpowder was drenched in alcohol to test for its potency. If the wet gunpowder lit, then the liquor was considered above proof and taxed at a higher rate.

This use of the word proof carried over to the US. In the mid 19th century, to standardise the amount of alcohol sold, given the practice of diluting spirits, 50% alcohol in a spirit was chosen as the standard, or baseline. And, this was described as being 100 proof. As in, it would light up.

Incidentally, chemistry doesn’t allow you to get 100% abv, 200 proof. 95% or 190 proof is as high as it goes.

Be sure to start off with a good quality vodka. That doesn’t mean expensive, be sure it’s something you would drink on its own. Like cooking wine, you infuse rubbish, you’ll get rubbish!


History of Limoncello

It's impossible to say exactly who invented limoncello, but it appears to have originated in southern Italy in the early 1900s. Some stories say that it was created by the local women, who served it chilled to honored guests. Others say that the liqueur originated with the area fishermen, who sipped it in the mornings before heading out to fight the chill, or with local monks who sipped it between prayers. No matter who invented it, limoncello makes use of the big, sweet lemons grown in Sorrento, Italy and the surrounding area.


What is Limoncello?

First, in case you may be unfamiliar with it, what exactly is limoncello? Limoncello is the sweet liqueur made from the oil essence of citrus fruit skins generally grown in the Mediterranean regions of Italy.

You can also make many other variations from several kinds of citrus fruits. Arancello (from orange), limecello, pummellocello (pummelo), grapefruitcello or any other 'cello are unique and fun to experiment with once you’ve made your first batch.

Limoncello is ubiquitous in the Amalfi coast region, and particularly the island of Capri, where lemons grow to the size of grapefruits, the fruit is fresh and juicy, and the oily skins make the perfect limoncello.

Homemade limoncello is everywhere in Italy, as very few Italians buy theirs from a store. Most Italians in Campania and southern Italy make their own. It never occurred to me that I could DIY limoncello, but after making several trips to different parts of the Amalfi Coast, I realized that everyone had their own homemade limoncello recipe and each was slightly unique. Aha!

I haven’t yet tried limecello or grapefruitcello yet, but pummellocello has a soft oh-so-subtle taste. Limoncello and arancello, however, are still my favorites — bursting with fresh citrus flavors.

Most everywhere you travel throughout Italy - especially the Amalfi Coast and Positano in southern Italy where they grow lemons the size of footballs — restaurants will serve you limoncello after a delicious meal, to continue the hospitality.

Restaurants will generally offer it to patrons gratis (for free) since it's typically made in-house. You'll hear limoncello referred to as a digestivo, something to sip and savor while your meal digests.

It's the perfect summertime drink — like sunshine in a glass — and it's super easy to make limoncello on your own! If you've visited Naples, Sorrento, Capri, or the Amalfi Coast, chances are you've already had it. And if you are planning to visit, bookmark this authentic limoncello recipe for future reference because you're going to want to learn to make it for when you're dreaming of Italy when you get home!

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