Monday, August 30, 2010

Home Made Limoncello

People of the world!!!. Prepare for the amazing and refreshingly surprising Limoncello. Its flavor is tangy, with the right citric aroma and a perfect sweetness that makes it one of the most delectable pousse-cafés.

This Italian digestiv (this means and after-meal liqueur, that can be called a pousse-café or coffee-chaser), is an alcoholic cordial served neat and ice cold (in its majority, but not a rule). Digestivs are usually dense with a heavier texture, with dark yellow, red, or brown colors. Think in heavy liquors such as sherry, port, armagnacs, cognacs, brandies, and a wide variety of whiskies.

Southern Italian Brands near the Sorrento region are the better known and most-recommended brands, however some Southern Californian Brands are finally appearing in the American market with good results. If you are, like me, an crazy aficionado, then put on your lab coat and your yellow rubber gloves, and let´s make some Home Made Limoncello.


  • Purchase only very fragrant lemons, if they don´t smell great, they are not the right ones for this recipe.
  • Try organic lemons or in worst case scenario buy plump grocery lemons but wash them throughly, since they may have been sprayed with heavy chemicals to avoid pests. All chemical contents in your lemon peels may affect the final taste of this liquor.
  • Use 80 or100 proof vodka, Some people likes Everclear because it has no additional sugar content, but I find it unnecesary since you will be adding simple syrup (Sugar based syrup) at the end of the process.
  • You will get a nice drink out of this recipe, so don´t be cheap and please used distilled water. Don´t make me go all "Hell´s Kitchen" on you.
  • Peelers and zesters are ideal tools to obtain the lemon zest needed for this recipe. (Check my blog on Garnishing tools), unless you have the time to regularly removed citric oils and wax once you prepared the original concoction, I would recommend to try to avoid the white pits.
  • Many recipes call to mix all ingredients at the very beginning. I wouldn´t recommend that. Add the simple syrup and the distilled water right before you are bottling it.

Home Made Limoncello Recipe
  • 15-20 lemons
  • 2 (750-ml) bottles high-proof vodka.
  • 7 or 8 cups of Simple Syrup
  • To cook the syrup use refined sugar and distilled water in a 3/4 proportion, more sugar than water.
  • Additionally get a 2-3 litter mason jar with a sealable lid.
  • Sterilized the jar, bacteria may affect the final taste.
  • You can used any other container, just be sure that it will be hermetically shut.

Simming Lemon Peels

  • Carefully wash your lemons. 
  • Only use the unblemished surfaces.
    Zest the lemons with a grater or a peeler.
  • Avoid the angry pits (White membranes under the skin)
    Bitterness on home made limoncellos is usually due to the pits or to avoid removing excess ils and waxes during the maceration process.
  • Leave the lemon peels and the vodka in the sealed jar to simmer for at least 2 weeks (Some people will leave it for 1 to 2 months, that is your call.
  • Keep it in a cool place, preferably your fridge. (Between 32 and 52 Fahrenheit Degrees or between 0 and 10 Celsius)

On a daily basis, give a quick swirl to the peels.
Remove excess oils and waxes surfacing the top.
Taste it regularly.

Straining and Bottling

Make a simple syrup.
Use 3 to 4 parts, refined sugar and distilled water or half and half parts sugar/water if you like it a little less sweet. Warm up the mix in a saucepan, stir until sugar dissolves and let it cool before putting in the fridge.

Strain peels
Using a coffee filter or a cheesecloth, strain the peels making sure no peel particles pass through the filter. Get ready to mix the alcohol with the syrup.

Bottle your Lemoncello
Pour the alcohol/syrup mix in the final bottles, and keep the refirgerated for at least one additional week

Another option
If you decided to make a "Crema di Limoncello" (Limoncello Cream). Instead of adding simple syrup, add 3 cups of superfine or confectionery sugar and 4 cups of whole milk cream. Stir and keep refrigerated for another 2 weeks. Continue the daily stirring process for this time period.

Drinking Limoncello

Ice Cold
Neat or straight up frozen in ceramic or glass shot glasses. Italians traditionally have preciously cold the glasses too.

Margarita Royal
Replace triple sec or Orange liquor in your margarita for half lemon juice/half limoncello, the new flavor is fantastic.

Champagne Topping
Add a splash of limoncello to 2 champagne servings and add one small dash of angostura bitters. Serves two. Great on a summer day!!.

Now keep me posted in your Limoncellos.If you run into a better recipe, send it my way!!! Enjoy.