Homemade Limoncello – Traditional Italian Recipe

Limoncello is a popular Italian lemon liqueur generally produced in Southern Italy,  particularly in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the coast of Amalfi and the Sorrentine Peninsula, and the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida.  It is also produced in Apulia, Abruzzo, Basilicata, Sardinia, Sicily, Menton in France, and the Maltese island of Gozo. Today, this liqueur is also often referred to limoncino (instead of limoncello), especially in northern Italy.

Homemade Limoncello

It’s also a popular homemade liqueur, with numerous recipes available in print and online. As an Italian, I present my version of homemade limoncello that my nonna Angela used to make in Illasi (a comune in the Province of Verona in the region Veneto).

Serving:

Limoncello liqueur is traditionally served chilled, usually as an after-dinner digestivo. Along the Amalfi Coast, it is typically served in little ceramic glasses that are also chilled. This tradition has been carried into other parts of Italy. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 lemons (preferably organic)
  • 1 750 ml bottle vodka or pure grain alcohol

Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

 

Instructions:

  • Wash the lemons. Remove the zest with a peeler, avoiding the white part. (You can make a lemonade from the zested lemons)
  • Place the zest and alcohol in a glass jar. Close the jar and let it sit for 1 to 2 weeks; shake daily. When the peels lose color, it is ready. Longer is better.
  • Strain the liquid and squeeze lemon peels in order to get all the liquid out.
  • Make a simple syrup by mixing 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves; cool to room temperature.
  • Add the syrup to the limoncello base. A little warm syrup makes a great limoncello.
  • Take a funnel and pour the liqueur into sealable clean bottles. Then, store in the freezer in a warmer zone, ideally on the door. It could slash up a bit, but that’s okay. Longer aging means more intense flavors.
  • Drink straight or in cocktails; i.e. with tonic. (Do not offer this beverage to children.)

Enjoy! Cin Cin!
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