What is Limoncello?
Limoncello is a strong, sweet, and very lemony dessert liqueur or digestif. It could be an acquired taste for many, but for me it was love at first sip. I was even more pumped to find out just how easy it is to make your own limoncello at home.
So easy I just may make my own exclusively. This limoncello recipe all started in Positano, Italy. We had just arrived to the coastal village after a morning of traveling down from Rome. In fact, it was around this time exactly last year.
We got a late brunch at a small cafe a few hundred yards from the beach called La Brezza. Fried eggs and really good Bloody Marys. I was in heaven, but it gets better. They brought us each a chilled glass of limoncello at the end of brunch, but the restaurant staff caught me tasting the tiny red hot chili pepper (yes, it was HOT) that was garnished on my Bloody Mary.
Long story short, apparently they thought it was hilarious and I was the ONLY person they’ve seen attempt to eat the tiny hot pepper. Maybe I’m an idiot but it earned me a second free glass of limoncello so I regret nothing.
We ended up bringing home a few bottles of locally made Positano limoncello. The bottle included their own limoncello recipe, however I did make a few tweaks after my initial trial run. I ended up using less simple syrup than the recipe calls for. I prefer limoncello a little on the stronger side. Other than that, it’s the perfect balance of flavor, strength and consistency.
How To Make Limoncello
4 simple ingredients. Everclear, organic lemon peels, sugar, and water. Steep lemon peels in Everclear for 7 days. On the 8th day, strain Everclear and add simple sugar. Chill and serve. Boom that was easy.
How to Peel Lemons for Limoncello
You want the thinnest lemon peel you can possibly get. Use a potato peeler to carefully remove the rinds from the lemons, leaving as much of the pith on the lemon as possible (the white part). Too much pith and the limoncello will be bitter.
Using Everclear in Limoncello
My only tip and it’s incredibly important—you must use Everclear and not vodka. Everclear is a grain alcohol that tastes similar to vodka, however it’s much more potent (151 proof). Yeah, drink it straight and you may go blind.
Using Everclear is so important because you will end up diluting the limoncello with sugar and water, bringing it back down to a more manageable proof. This allows it to remain strong like a flavored vodka and also keeps it freezable. If you use vodka, your limoncello may be too watery and could freeze in the freezer.
More importantly, always use organic lemons because they’re free of pesticides. Trust me, you don’t want to drink limoncello that has been soaking in pesticides.
Finally, when life gives you lemons, make limoncello…or a limoncello martini.Print
- 10 medium or large organic lemons (this is important—no pesticides)
- 1 liter Everclear alcohol* (151 proof)
- 5 1/2 cups water
- 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- Using a potato peeler, remove the rinds from the lemons, leaving all or as much of the pith on the lemon as possible (the white part). Too much pith and limoncello will be bitter.
- Place the lemon peels in a covered glass container with the Everclear and let sit for 7 days.
- On the 8th day, strain the lemon peels from the Everclear and discard.
- To make the simple syrup (sugar and water), add the water and sugar to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool to room temp and add to the Everclear. You can serve immediately or place in the freezer to chill.
I store my limoncello in the freezer so it’s always very chilled. Because I use Everclear (151 proof), it will not freeze. Do not substitute for vodka or it will become too weak and diluted when adding the water and sugar.