I love homemade Christmas gifts: making and receiving them. So for a few years now, I’ve been making treats for friends and family. When you do something every year, the hard part becomes trying to come up with something different from the previous year.
After much thought (which started last Christmas), this year I made and I'm suggesting you make limoncello. It’s unique, pretty, and most importantly super easy to make. Just four ingredients and a little bit of time!
But some of you may be wondering what in the world is limoncello.
Limoncello is a lemon based liquor from the Amalfi coast. The various towns along the coast compete as to who, what, where, when, and how the drink was originally created. But what we (or at least I) care about is that, it was created. Limoncello exists!
This drink comes out especially well if you can get your hands on lemons from that region limoni di sorrento, which are particularly aromatic. However, I realize that unless you live in Italy (and preferably in that region) that is going to be pretty hard. So feel free to make this with the freshest ORGANIC lemons you can get your hands on. I emphasize the organic part, because the alcohol will suck out whatever is on those rinds: the good, the bad, and the scary.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that yes you can use a potato peeler to make this drink, but it will be even easier to peel, and leave behind the white bitter pith if you use a lemon zester (the one that gives you thin long strips – not the microplane).
Finally, in Italy, you can find 190proof grain alcohol at just about any supermarket. However, it may be much harder to find abroad. If you are in the USA/Canada you can order it online here. You can also substitute it with regular vodka, but the lower alcohol content will mean that it won’t macerate the lemon peel quite the same way (but it will still be good). If you’re making it with vodka I’d also suggest using about half the water this recipe calls for (you can always add more to taste).
(makes two liters of limoncello)
- 1 liter ( 4 ¼ cup) grain alcohol (95%/190 proof)
- 12 organic lemons
- 1 liter ( 4 ¼ cup) water
- 750 g (3 cup) white sugar
- 2 large jar with lid (1 quart each)
- mesh strainer
- lemon zester or vegetable peeler
- bottles for serving
1. Wash and gently dry lemons. Peel the lemons with a lemon zester or potato peeler being careful to only get the yellow part (leaving behind the bitter white pith). Place peels into jars (half and half). Pour alcohol over lemon zest and tightly seal jar. Set aside in a dark and dry place for at least four days and up to 45 days.
2. Add water and sugar to a medium size pan. Gently stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. Pour cooled syrup over alcohol mixture. Cover and let sit overnight in a dark and dry place.
3. Use a strainer to filter out lemon peels (discard peels). Pour into bottles. Store in fridge or freezer for up to one year.