I have a delicious recipe for you to try- this is so easy to make and it turns into a really wonderful gift!
This year my Dad had a huge harvest of lemons on his lemon trees and he kept giving us bags and bags of lemons. I decided as part of his Christmas gift this year I would try my hand at homemade Limoncello with his fresh lemons.
The first time I tried Limoncello was when I was on the island of Capri in Italy years ago. Limoncello is serious business there and all the Italians we met kept insisting we try the Limoncello.
Limoncello is essentially a grain alcohol or Vodka marinated in lemon peels. Then you add a bit of simple syrup and voila! Limoncello! It is a lighter drink and meant to be consumed ice cold.
In Italy we drank this from a shot glass as a digestif at the end of the meal. It is kind of like a Lemon Drop but it has a much richer lemon taste. A true Italian Limoncello isn’t nearly as sugary as the drinks we typically get here in the States- it is cleaner and more refreshing.
On Capri they have beautiful pottery celebrating the amazing lemons they grow- this is one of my little shot glasses that I brought back to remember that spectacular island. They serve Limoncello in a shot glass with a small dessert.
Your homemade Limoncello won’t be quite as good as what they make in Italy but that is because we just don’t get the amazing produce here. (Even in California nothing tastes quite as good as it does there- magic in the water I think.)
So try it out! It is a great gift when you don’t want to make sweets but still want to do something homemade. This is popular as a Wedding favor and a little goes a long way so you can use mason jars or whatever you might have to store your Limoncello.
I also made a big batch for my friends and a few neighbors. This takes just minutes to make and should be served ice cold.
Here is the process for Limoncello- it really couldn’t be easier you just need to plan ahead so it can infuse all that lemony goodness.
- Lemons- organic if possible
- 1 bottle good Vodka
- Grate the rind off 10-13 lemons (depending on size).
- Use a potato peeler for this process or a microplane.
- You want to carefully avoid the white part of the rind as that is bitter.
- Now that you have all those lovely peels add them to a pitcher and dump your Vodka in the pitcher. Stir it a bit and cover with Saran Wrap.
- Let this sit in a cool spot for at least 4 days or up to 30.
- Once you are done infusing your Vodka with the lemon peel (mine sat for 7 days)- mix 2 cups of sugar with 3 cups of water in a pan.
- Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves- just a few minutes.
- Once it is dissolved remove from heat and let cool.
- In the meantime you can strain your vodka mixture.
- I used a mesh strainer and that got most of the peels out.
- If you have really fine peels from using a Microplane you might want to strain a second time with paper towels or cheesecloth lining your strainer.
- This is not totally necessary but I like the Limoncello to be nice and clear yellow and not have little floaty peels inside.
- Once you strain the Vodka mixture add the sugar water and stir well.
- Store in freezer.
Any type of lemon works for this recipe, I used Meyer Lemons because that is what I had but the freshest, juicest lemons are the ones to choose. Try to use organic if you can. If cost is an issue or availability is an issue just scrub the lemons really well before you grate them.
Alla tua salute!
Oh and if you do give this as a gift you might include on your tag to serve icy cold. It should be stored in the freezer and it will last 1 year or more!
(If you are wondering what to do with all the leftover lemons- here is an amazing recipe for Fresh Homemade Lemonade!)