Ever since I went to Italy I’ve loved Limoncello. I usually have a bottle in my freezer ready and waiting to add to my favorite Lemon Drop Martini. However, it was always a bottle I had purchased from the store. It wasn’t until I had some homemade Limoncello given to me from a fellow Navy spouse, who had lived in Italy, that I knew I wanted to make some Limoncello from scratch!
The process is really quite simple: Steep lemon peels in either Everclear (a potent grain alcohol) or vodka for a period of time, then add simple syrup and chill. The hardest part of the whole process is peeling the lemons and making sure you get all the pith off of the peel. Apparently the pith will make the Limoncello bitter so it’s important to make sure you don’t have any of the white stuff on the peel!
There are recipes all over the internet on how to make Limoncello. Some say to steep the peels for 4 days, others say 45 days, or even longer. Some say to use Everclear, others say to use vodka. Many states don’t sell Everclear so I suppose that’s why some recipes call for vodka. Instead of picking a recipe off the internet, I asked my friend, Colleen, for her recipe and thought I’d follow that one since I knew it was a winner.
But here’s where my little mistake started. I read the recipe but didn’t pay much attention to the amount of alcohol. I don’t know why but I just had it in my head that I needed only one bottle of Everclear so that’s what I bought. One 750ml bottle. The recipe called for 1 liter, which I didn’t realize until I was ready to add the sugar and saw that it called for 3 lbs. of sugar. What? That couldn’t be right. That’s a LOT of sugar! So I asked Colleen and she said it was correct and that it made a lot of Limoncello. Still made no sense to me until I looked at the recipe again and realized my mistake by using only one bottle of Everclear. Let me just admit right now I suck at math and converting liters to cups/ounces, pounds to cups, etc. is not my thing. So I just winged it and cut down the amount of sugar, made my standard simple syrup and hoped for the best!
Unfortunately, I don’t have any of Colleen’s Limoncello left to compare with what I made, but I can tell you everyone I gave it to thought it was delicious. I’m giving you the original recipe here as well as the amounts I used and you can choose for yourself which one to make. And don’t forget to add some Limoncello to your next Lemon Drop…or some baked goods!
- 1 liter Everclear Alcohol
- 10 medium to large lemons
- 1½ liters of water
- 3 pounds sugar (1½ kilos)
- 1 750ml bottle Everclear
- 10 lemons
- 3 C. sugar
- 3 C. water
- Wash lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry. Using a potato peeler, take all the lemon rinds off the lemons so there is no white pith on the peel*. Place the rind-peelings in a large container with Everclear alcohol. Cover the container and let it sit for seven days.
- On the eighth day, strain the peels from alcohol; discard peels.
- In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar; let it simmer "fast" for 15 minutes**. Let simple syrup cool to room temperature. Add to alcohol.
* Again, I didn't pay attention to the recipe and simmer the simple syrup for 15 minutes. I just brought it to a boil to make sure the sugar was melted and combined, then turned it off and let it cool.