Limoncello, a sweet Italian lemon liqueur is easy to make at home, requiring only a few ingredients. It’s a refreshing cordial that’s usually sipped cold as an aperitif but also lends itself well to mixed drinks. And your homemade limoncello will be cheaper than commercial brands and taste much better.
Use the highest proof grain alcohol you can find, preferably 190 proof Everclear, Golden Grain or Gem Clear. (Don’t worry, you’ll be diluting it later). If you’re in a state that doesn’t allow sales of these spirits then get the highest proof vodka you can find.
For the lemons it’s best to go organic. They won’t have the wax that other lemons have and that’s a pain to wash off. Also, you’ll be using the zest, which is where the bulk of pesticides and herbicides end up.
Lastly, I strongly recommend you invest in a microplane zester (about $10). It will make your work much easier.
- 1 750 mL bottle of grain alcohol ( Everclear or similar)
- Zest of 8 – 10 lemons (depending on size)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups filtered water
- Phase 1:
- Wash the lemons thoroughly then dry them
- Now zest them. You need only the outer part of the rind. Be sure not to get any pith in the zest as this will make your limoncello bitter
- Put the zest in a clean 1 gallon glass jar
- Fill the jar with the alcohol, cover it and store in a cool, dry place for up to a month.
- Your alcohol is ready when it’s a bright yellow color and the zest has become pale
- Note: Don’t waste the lemons. Juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for future use
- Phase 2: Prepare the simple syrup
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan
- Heat over a low temperature ’til the sugar dissolves and the mix is clear. Do not boil
- Let cool
- When cool, add the syrup to the alcohol, shake it up and store for another two weeks
- Phase 3:
- Strain the mixture through a coffee filter to remove all the zest
- Pour into a bottle and store in the freezer. (It doesn’t have enough water in it to freeze)
- Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and wait for the accolades from your guests when they taste your limoncello
- Note: If the final mixture is not sweet enough for you, you can add a little more sugar syrup to taste.