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 limoncelloquest.com - an entire site dedicated to limoncello!
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!