A classic and popular Italian liqueur. Homemade limoncello is made with just 4 ingredients and making your own is so much more rewarding than buying.
The first time I had Limoncello was quite a few years in Bologna Italy. Our trip to the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy was to visit famous car factories of Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari. As famous as the region is for their car makers, they are just as well known for some of the best Italian culinary offerings of the region like prosciutto de Parma, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar of Modena. Just based on this you can imagine what kind of trip we had.
After our visit to the Lamborghini factory, our friend Bernd who works there offered to take us out to dinner in Bologna. Bernd and his wife met us at our hotel because they said we would never find the restaurant on our own and they were right. We walked for what seemed like miles down cobblestone streets and winding in and out of porticos, then, we reached a door. Just a door in what we would call an alley. We were greeted by the most jubilant Italian gentleman who made us feel very welcome. He seated us in his restaurant that hosted about 8 tables, we were in for the night because this restaurant does not turn the tables so the same people stayed all evening.
When the food courses started to be served, Bernd advised us to just have tastes of everything because there’s a lot of food in our future, in addition to the fresh Parmesan cheese in between courses. After all the courses had been served and our stomaches were bursting at the seams, came this yellow drink in a bottle along with shot glasses, served on ice. I was told it was Limoncello. One sip and I was hooked. Let’s just say, the walk back to the hotel was a little blurred.
So since this amazing trip, I’ve been meaning to make my own Limoncello. This is not only a delicious after dinner drink, I use it in recipes like lemon pound cake (recipe coming soon) cookies and tarts as well as delicious mixed in cocktails.
Limoncello is traditionally made with Everclear which is 95% proof grain alcohol and is available in Bevmo stores (they’re not paying me, I’m just letting you know where to find it). If you can’t find Everclear, you can use unflavored vodka.
Fresh lemons (preferable organic) are peeled making sure only the zest is peeled and no white part, added to a large glass container with an opening large enough to remove the peelings when done, then Everclear is added and allowed to sit covered for 10-14 days.
After the 2 weeks, the peels are strained out and a simple syrup of sugar and water is mixed in. This is when it develops its gorgeous lemon color. After the final storage overnight, I like to keep it in the refrigerator because Limoncello is best served cold.
- 2 each 750 ml 95% 151 bottle Everclear grain alcohol
- 14 organic lemons * see note
- 4 cups filtered water
- 4 cups granulated sugar
Wash the lemons in warm water and scrub to remove any wax.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemons. Yellow flesh only no white part.
Add the lemon peel to a large container with a lid, pour over the alcohol.
Leave for 10-14 days.
Add the water and sugar to a pan over medium high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Add the cooled sugar syrup to the Everclear and lemon peel, stir and allow to sit at room temperature overnight.