Quando la vita ti da limoni…fai il limoncello! When life gives you lemons…make limoncello! This is a good motto for life. I usually make homemade limoncello or other infused liqueurs with vodka, as 90% grain alcohol is not available in Canada. With the hand sanitizer shortage 3 years ago at the beginning of the pandemic, my fratello was able to order 151 proof (71%) Everclear grain alcohol to make his own. When hand sanitizer was available again, he had an extra bottle, so I used it to make limoncello. It is not the 191 proof (90%) alcohol that liqueurs are usually made with-but close enough, and definitely better than using vodka.
Limoncello (lee·mohn·CHEL·loh) is an Italian liqueur, made mostly in Southern Italy, especially in the Amalfi/Sorrento area where the limoni are large and fragrant. It is usually served chilled as an after dinner digestivo. I use it in many of my desserts too!
To make limoncello, you need 1L (4 cups) of grain alcohol and 8-10 organic lemons. Limoncello is made only with the scorza, or lemon peel, so the lemons must be untreated. I used the juice to make limonata.
Peel lemons with a vegetable or potato peeler, taking only the peel, not the pith (the white stuff). If a bit of pith snuck in there, scrape it off with a knife
Place the lemon peels in a large airtight glass jar. I used a 2L jar that used to hold artichokes, rinsing it out with vinegar and soap to remove any smell.
Cover lemon peels with alcohol and leave the jar to steep in a dark cool place for 2 weeks or more. A cantina is ideal if you have one. Give the jar a good shake every few days. When the peels are very pale, almost white, it is done. The liquid will be a gorgeous golden colour.
Mix 750 ml-1L (3-4 cups) water with 500 ml (2 cups) sugar in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then let the syrup cool.
Strain lemon peels from the alcohol and add cooled syrup. It will be a cloudy yellow once the lemon essential oils and water mix together. If using vodka instead of grain alcohol, use less syrup. Shake the jar and leave it in the cantina or a cold, dark place for 1-2 weeks. Then ladle into small bottles with pop-tops or secure tops and leave for 1 more week to intensify the lemon flavour.
Il limoncello è pronto. Salute!
Posts with recipes using limoncello:
(originally posted in August 2020, and somehow was accidentally deleted!)