Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

I have a wonderful lemon tree in my back yard that has a bumper crop of lemons right now. It's Limoncello time! Limoncello is a wonderful lemon liquor that is a wonderful sipped ice cold, added to sparkling water or lemonade for a delicious cocktail. Consider it liquid sunshine! My mother makes it sometimes and this is her receipe.

15 lemons

2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka

4 cups sugar

5 cups water

Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest.

Use 100-proof vodka, which has less flavor than a lower proof one. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.


Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.

Step One:

In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add one bottle of vodka; add the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. (There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.

Step Two:

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step One. Add the additional bottle of vodka. Allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days.

Step Three:

After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

I'm planning to make a double (or even triple) batch depending on the number of lemons I have and use them as hostess gifts for summer parties this year.

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