How to make your own limoncello

After travelling to Italy some years ago and sampling some home made limoncello I decided to give it a go. After all, what on earth was I going to do with all the lemons I kept being given by friendly vecinos!

The Alcohol

Most traditional Italian recipes start you off with pure alcohol of close to 80%, through the process this is diluted by more than half with sugar water, still it ends up being very strong and likely to give to a headache like you have never had before.

My advice is to use vodka, already 40% proof will dilute to 20% and give you a smoother finish. Again do not use the cheapest vodka known to man this will have the same resulting headache as previously mentioned! So Smirnoff red label is the way to go (other brands of vodka are also available).

The Method

For each liter of vodka you will need the rind of 7 large lemons (approximately). This measurement is not vital but just a guideline, more rather than less though.

Be careful not to get any of the white pith in it as this will make the resulting drink bitter, not good.

I bought my self a large glass jar of about 6L which is a more than sufficient size. Its always good to have some room left in the jar so that you can give it a good shake from time to time.

So put the vodka in the glass container along with all the rind from the lemons, give it a shake. To this will need to make an equal quantity of sugar water to dilute this with. Make this in a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar. Gently heat the water and sugar until it has dissolved. This ratio can be adjusted to suit the sweetness of your tooth. Once it has cooled add it to the vodka, put the lid on and give it a shake and then leave in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks. Every now and then give the Lemoncello a shake.

The Waiting

This is the difficult bit. Wait for it, wait for it.

I am sure that you will taste some before, I forgive you, we all weaken.

While you are waiting juice the lemons you have left and store in bottles in the fridge, great for Margueritas, woop. ( more on this later!). 

Congratulations, you have waited long enough.

So, remember all those vodka bottles I told you to save at the beginning? No? Well save all the vodka bottles, you are going to need them!

You can now strain the Lemoncello back into the bottles leaving a couple of inches free at the top of the bottle. And miracle of miracles you will have enough left to refill those bottles once you have drained them of their contents. Its like having free stuff, who doesnt like that!

Anyway, before you serve it into a large brandy glass with plenty of ice, top the bottle up with the lemon juice I told you to save earlier. Don’t be tempted to do this to each bottle until you are ready to use it.

Relax and enjoy the kudos of making your own delicious summer Limoncello and the undying admiration of all who drink it.

Lemoncello Update

I tried to shortcut the juicing of the lemons buy shoving them whole into a juicer. This produced a horrible white lemony emulsion, what a distaster. 

However I stuck it in the fridge hoping it would separate, which it did, nearly. What I got was an almost jellified lemon juice that when I put it in the Lemoncello didn’t really mix well. Not wanting it to go to waste I tried the resulting accident finding that the lemon juice had formed almost like little jelly lemon bombs in the Lemoncello which was actually quite pleasant. Not sure if I recommend it or not as you could ruin a whole batch of lemon juice and Lemoncello. No hate mail please if it doesn’t work out!

Graham Wood

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