Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homemade Limoncello

If you have never had limoncello, you don't know what you are missing! Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor that is traditionally sipped after dinner. Served chilled, it is the perfect way to finish a delicious meal.
It can be hard to find in stores, so we were so delighted to find out how easy it is to make it at home!

Limoncello is made by steeping lemon zest in grain alcohol - Everclear. The lemon infused alcohol is then mixed with simple syrup, and then chilled! In some states or counties you can't buy Everclear. If you can't buy it in your area, you can substitute vodka.
We found this recipe and lots of tips for making limoncello at - an entire site dedicated to limoncello!

The Recipe:
1 750 ml bottle of Everclear
8-10 medium size lemons
2 1/2 cups of water
1 3/4 cups of sugar
You will also need a glass container to age the lemons and Everclear. We like using an old apple sauce jar. You will also need bottles to store the finished limoncello. You can buy new bottles, or save your Everclear and other wine bottles.

When choosing lemons you want to use organic if possible. They won't have wax and pesticides on the peel. If you can't, make sure you wash them very well! You also want lemons that have beautiful flawless peels.

Now it is time to zest the lemons. You can use whatever method you prefer - peeler, knife or micro plane. You just want to make sure you get NO pith (white part of the peel) into the limoncello. It will make the limoncello bitter.

Put the zest in your glass jar, pour the Everclear over the top, and close the lid.
Now for the really hard part. You have to WAIT - something that us Mamas are not good at. In the recipe that we used, they recomend waiting 45 days. We have never been able to wait that long We try to wait at least a week. Apparently it makes the drink smoother if you wait. There are many recipes out there on the web, and some have you only waiting 4 days. Maybe one of these days we'll find a little patience and wait the full 45 days.
The peels will lose their color and get hard and crispy.

Our pantry is full of all sorts of things waiting and brewing. Label everything. You don't want to mix the Homemade Enzyme Cleaner with the lemoncello!

Finally it's time to make the limoncello!
You are going to add simple syrup to the alcohol mixture. Mix the sugar and water in a pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let the sugar completely cool!

While it is cooling, you can strain the the zest into another pitcher. Discard the peels and then pour the liquid back into the jar. Strain the liquid again using a coffee filter. (When we peeled our lemons with a vegetable peeler, we didn't need to use the coffee filter).
After the syrup is cool, add it to the lemon liquid.

Pour the limoncello into two clean bottles. Again, our recipe says you should let this age another 45 days. We don't, we just stick one bottle in the freezer and one in the pantry. When the bottle in the freezer is completely cold (it won't freeze) it will be ready to serve. (Don't drink it warm! Yuck!)
Most people serve it in chilled glasses with no ice. Some like it over ice. We have also heard it is delicious over vanilla ice cream.

If you enjoy the limoncello, you can also try making other citrus flavors. We have made orangecello (delicious!) and as you can see we are now making limecello.

Even the kids like it when we make limoncello. They know it means lemon-squares and homemade lemonade!

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  1. How fun! I keep a bottle of limoncello in my freezer. I use it for flavoring Jello shots in the summer. We love Jello shots and especially love strawberry lemonade jello shots for a hot summer party. Going to get my batch going now so it will be ready to go this summer!

  2. I love lemoncello! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  3. uhmm delicious and always perfect! buono il limoncello!

  4. Sounds delicious! Getting lemons tomorrow to start the process!

  5. Limoncello makes the best amaretto sours too!
    Thanks for posting the recipe!!!!

  6. How long does it keep in the pantry? I was thinking of Christmas gifts.

  7. I’m curious how long this keeps in the pantry because, like Becca, I think this would make great Christmas gifts in a cool bottle

  8. bjbethel
    This will keep indefinitely. Everclear a very good preservative. I have Amaretto made by my Great Grandma, my 'Nona', 46 years ago. Absolutely sublime with age. I would suggest zesting very fine and aging this at least the recommended time. So much of the true flavor and traditional essence is lost if one cannot be patient and wait. Life is too fast to hurry the good things... =)

  9. Do you have the Amaretto recipe?

    1. No, but that sounds like a great project for us! We'll start looking!

  10. Very excited to make this! What size (oz./ml.) bottles did you use for your finished product, and how many did the recipe make? Just trying to get an idea of what the recipe yields.

    1. I save my Everclear bottles for bottling the limoncello. The batch will make almost enough to fill 2 750ml bottles. I have seen limoncello bottles at World Market (I think they are actually called that!)

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  12. How did you limecello come out? I'd heard you can't really do lime because the zest is very bitter. I'd love to hear otherwise. My favorite is the has an unbelievable, clean citrus taste.

  13. My limecello turned out wonderful. I gave most of it away as Christmas gifts but managed to save myself a couple of bottles. YUM! I am excited to try grapefruit. Thanks for the suggestion.

  14. Everclear is illegal in the state that I live in. Is there something else I can use instead?

  15. we have made ours with vodka and it turned out fabulous

  16. Nice recipe ! Iced ginger tea and anything with tons of lemon are my favorite summer coolers. I'll have to try some of these new ones though.You also try Easy Mixed Drinks Recipes .