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Preparation: 30 mins
Aging: 30 days
Limoncello is a traditional South Italian lemon-flavoured liqueur made using lemon zest. Italians love to drink limoncello after pizza or fish, but it is also lovely when drinking with friends, in the evening, while chatting on the sofa! Anyway, if you have the chance of visiting the area of Sorrento, Amalfi or Capri I suggest you buy a couple of bottles to take home. Drink it cold; keep the bottles ready in the fridge.
There are different ways to make limoncello but I am not going to list all of them because I would risk confusing you. I want to keep it simple and effective, so let‘s see how we can make limocello considering that if you do not live in Italy you may have some difficulty in finding all the necessary ingredients. Hence, we make limoncello with what we have, not with what we would like to, or should have!
I will give you an example: I live in Scoltand and until two years (now, when I am writing, it's August 2007) ago it was very difficult to find organic lemons so the best option was unwaxed lemons. Now I can find organic lemons in a couple of local supermarkets but this lemons have nothing to do with the big organic lemons that grows in South Italy. Alcohol for making liqueur is another issue, because in Italy the lemon zest is soaked in 95%Vol alcohol, which is watered down at the second stage to alter the liqueur to 30-35%Vol. UK supermarkets offer spirits that rarely exceed the 45%Vol, so we need to make the best of what we have and, of course, keep an eye on the pennies!
Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
Ingredients (U.S. measurements):
Note 1: for this recipe you also need a 2-3 litre jar with a sealed lid. The jar should be washed very well or sterilised before use.
Note 2: about the sugar, some people like the limoncello sweeter and use 450 g (1 pound) of sugar. I personally prefer the sharper taste of the zest, so I make my limoncello with less sugar, using only 350 g (12 ounces) of sugar, as suggested in the ingredients list.
Rinse the lemons under running water.
Organic lemons sometimes have soil residue, so rinse them, one by one, to be sure they are completely clean.
Then, dry the lemons with kitchen paper.
Now, it’s time to prepare the sugar syrup. Put all the sugar into a small pan, add the water and melt the sugar over very low heat.
The melting should take a few minutes, meanwhile keep stirring and take care that the syrup does not reach boiling point.
Soon you will notice that the syrup becomes clearer. At this point, turn the cooker off and leave the syrup to cool down.
While the syrup is cooling down, cut the zest from your lemons, making small pieces, with a sharp knife or peeler. You need only the yellow /green part of the lemon skin, also known as rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.
Put all the zest in the jar (unused lemons may be used to make a lemon sorbet or even lemonade).
Pour the litre of vodka into the jar.
Add the syrup (the syrup must be cool).
When the syrup cools down, it is easy to find some of the sugar solidified in the bottom of the pan. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon and put this sugar into the jar.
Now, that everything is in the jar, close the jar with its sealed lid.
Put the jar in a cool and dark place for 30-40 days.
Twice a week take the jar and put it onto a flat smooth surface. Then, with your hands spin the jar a few times, so all the contents are shaken up. Then, put the jar back to the cool and dark place.
After 30-40 days, you can transfer the contents of the jar into a bottle. For this you need a funnel and something to filter the limoncello liqueur from the zest that is in the jar. A gauze or jelly bag filter would be fine.
Now, pour the contents of the jar into the bottle.
In the end, you should be left with a yellowish clear liqueur.
With one litre of vodka, I managed to prepare 2 bottles of limoncello, about 700 ml (3 cups) each.
Close the bottle with a cork and put the bottle in the fridge. Limoncello must be drunk chilled and using chilled (but no ice cubes, as this will dilute the drink to much) glasses when drinking it, will make it perfect.
Cheers!..... or........Alla vostra salute!
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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