I love limoncello. LOVE it!
If you don’t know what it is, it’s a (pretty strong) Italian lemon-flavored after dinner drink. It is normally served chilled in a fancy cordial glass. You can buy it in a liquor store, but why buy it when you can make it at home?
There are tons of recipes out there, and they are all pretty similar. And they’re all large. Limoncello is great, but most recipes require at least 10 lemons, and once you strip the zest from them, you’d better use them pretty fast.
This recipe will yield about 18 ounces, and it’s just something you make in the background, so to speak. You don’t even really make it, it’s just kinda there. Read through, you’ll see what I mean.
Limoncello is a 2 part recipe, and you can’t make this start to finish in one day. Part 1, you add lemon zest to alcohol and leave it to sit till the alcohol draws all the essence out, for a minimum of 4 days. Part 2, you remove the zest, make a simple syrup of sugar and water, and add the alcohol.
So, Part 1, you need:
3/4 cup ALCOHOL – All the recipes will tell you to use either vodka or grain alcohol (sold as Everclear or Graves, and not legal in all states.) I’ve made limoncello with both, and I hands down prefer the grain alcohol, so the measurements I give you are going to be for that. Put 3/4 cup in a jar that you have a lid for. Or any glass container, as long as you have a lid.
3 or 4 LEMONS – You’re going to zest the lemons, either with a zester or a potato peeler. Either way, try to get as little as possible of the white pith underneath. Try to just skim off the yellow outermost part of the lemon. Put in the alcohol, and make sure all is under the surface. (If you use a potato peeler, and get too much of the pith, you can scrape much of it off gently with the edge of a spoon.) If you want it extra lemony, or if your lemons are on the small side, you can use 5 or 6.
Once you remove the outer skin of the lemons, you have to use them pretty quick or they dry out. If you’re not going to use up 3 or 4 lemons this week, don’t buy them. You can start with 1 or 2, and just leave the jar in the cabinet till you are going to get another lemon. This is what I meant by the recipe kinda just exists in the background. It’s not particularly time sensitive either. Once I found a far I had forgotten about for almost a year and it was still fine.
Word to the wise: when you buy the lemons, smell them first. If they smell kinda bland and waxy, your end result won’t be very good. You’ll do better if they smell vibrant and lemony. It stands to reason that since you’re using the outside of the lemon, it’s better to buy organic, but I almost never do. I figure it’s gonna sit in alcohol long enough to kill anything anyway, but that’s just me. Use your judgment.
Leave the jar to sit for at least 4 days after the last lemon went it.
Part 2, you’ll need:
1 cup WATER & 1 1/4 cup SUGAR – put the sugar and water in a little pot, and simmer & stir it till the sugar is all melted and the syrup is clear. Once it’s cool you can use it.
Strain out the lemon zest and discard it. It’ll likely be a little crunchy. The alcohol will be clear and yellow. When you pour the cooled sugar syrup into the jar, it’ll turn cloudy. That’s OK. (with vodka it stays clear, that’s OK too) Store it in the freezer and serve cold.
So let me mention a few things. The RATIO of alcohol/sugar/water is my own preference. I like it sweet, and this recipe, when stored in the freezer, thickens but doesn’t freeze. I’ve had it made with equal amounts grain alcohol/sugar/water, and to me it’s undrinkable – way too strong and not enough sweet along with the tart of the lemon. One of the nice things about a small batch recipe is, if you make it and find you’d prefer it altered a bit, it’s real easy to do!
If you live in a place where GRAIN ALCOHOL is not accessible, you’ll have no choice but to use vodka. I recommend the high proof vodka, which is 100 proof. Of course, it’s 1/2 the strength of grain alcohol, so if you follow these measurements exactly, your final product will be much weaker and will freeze if you store it in the freezer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different.
Bonus: You can make this with other CITRUS peels also. Lime is amazing, just use twice as many. Orange and tangelo are good too, I’ve added a dash of pure vanilla extract to orange and yum! I made grapefruit too but that wasn’t very good. I found a recipe for cream limoncello once and boy was that delicious! I’ll have to go on the hunt for it and add it here when I find it. (EDIT: I added it, see below.)
So, that’s my small batch limoncello, that’s barely a recipe. (Next time I make it I’ll take more pictures and update this post.) Enjoy!
OK, the cream limoncello recipe is not mine, I discovered it on YouTube. I gotta give this girl credit, so I’ll share the video – but it’s in Italian, so you might not understand it.. click HERE if you’d like to watch it..
Translation of Her Ingredients:
Lemon peelings (only the yellow part) – she later specifies to use 6-8 lemons, but then peels way more than 8.
1/2 liter (2.11 cups) alcohol, buongusto is the Italian brand, 95 proof, which is our Everclear or Graves
1 liter (4.22 cups) whole milk
250 mL (1 cup) cold cream (What she pours looks like light cream, I use heavy because that’s usually what I have on hand)
750 grams of sugar. They measure sugar by weight. And it’s metric. This weight of sugar is about 3.6 cups.
Don’t worry if you can’t understand it, the words are just a narration of what you see, and the process is the same as above, just swapping out the water for milk and cream.
I started you out with 3/4 cup of alcohol, which is just over a third of what she’s using, so drop your milk, cream, and sugar down to 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/3 cup cream, and 1 1/4 cups sugar. This is lower proof than the limoncello recipe above, and it WILL freeze, so storing it in the fridge instead of the freezer might be better.
Let me tell you, when I make this, I have a HARD time sharing it, and I love sharing stuff I made. Creamy Limoncello is DEE-LISH!!! Leave a comment below if you make it and tell me if you had any left by the time company arrived!
Originally posted 2017-10-10 18:28:17.