Recipe Recap: Homemade Limoncello

If you’re a limoncello lover, this post is for you.  Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that has a very intense lemon flavor.  It is usually served chilled and in a cordial glass with no ice.  When J and I were in Italy back in June, it was so fun to try all of the different versions of Limoncello from its homeland.  Often times, restaurants offered it for free at the end of a meal, or you could drop in a bar in the middle of the afternoon and get a glass to sip.

I have made limoncello before with my friends Mike and Vanessa, so when they asked to do it again, I jumped at the chance.  Especially since J has never experienced the process.

To start, we met way back in May to do phase one of the process.  Making this liqueur is a two-step process with a few months in between.  The longer the wait in the middle, the better it will taste.

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The first phase consisted of zesting the cleaned lemons and soaking them in a clear alcohol  (we used Everclear).  This part is the most time consuming of the whole process.

Tonight we got together to complete phase two: adding the simple syrup (i.e. sugar water) to the infused alcohol and putting it in bottles.

We knew ahead of time that we wanted to finish with a large batch, so we doubled what we thought we would need.  Below you can see what we used to yield thirty-four (375 ounce) bottles.

Phase One Ingredients:

40 lemons (washed and scrubbed clean)

2 handles of Everclear (1.75 liters each) – PA residents have to go to NJ to purchase this

2 large one-gallon jars with lids

Phase Two Ingredients:

26 cups of water

26 cups of sugar

Cheesecloth

Funnel

STEPS – PHASE ONE:

1. Fill each glass jar with a handle of alcohol.

2. With a sharp knife, zest the lemons.  Be sure to cut only the yellow part.  Scrape any white part off as it makes the limoncello bitter.  The cutting is trial and error since certain knives work better than others.  Have a few knives available to see which works best for you. I find that cutting both ends of the lemon off allows the lemon to stand straight while giving me a better grip when zesting.

3. Drop the peels into the alcohol, splitting them in half between the two jars.

4. Give them a quick stir and cover each jar with plastic wrap, followed by the lids.

5. Place in a dark place and stir once a week.

NOTE:  We waited almost six months to complete the final step, but you can bottle in two to three months if you want it faster.  The longer it sets, the better it tastes! 

STEPS – PHASE TWO:

1. Purchase your 375 ounce empty bottles and wash them thoroughly.  Make sure to get the lids too. If you are local to me, there is a small market in Bath called Wunderler’s.  They have a full selection of bottles, plus everything you need to make wine, etc.

2. Prepare the sugar water in advance to allow time to cool.  I know it sounds like a TON of sugar, but you need it.

3. Strain the liquid/zest mixture through a cheesecloth into a large pot.  Make sure there aren’t any floating particles.

4. Add it to the cooled simple syrup mixture and stir.

5. Use a funnel and ladle it into jars.  Make sure to leave a little room at the top for the cork.

6. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the outside of the bottles and cork.

7. Serve icy cold and enjoy! I like to keep a bottle or two in the freezer to ensure a  premium tasting experience.

That’s it.  I know it sounds like a long time to wait, but something like this a nice thing to do with friends.  Plus, it gives you an excuse to get together again!  xo

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Just like I love fine wine and dark chocolate, I'd love to hear from you too!