Homemade Limoncello Recipe

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Homemade Limoncello RecipeNot many know that limoncello can be made from home and even fewer know that it can be relatively easy to make — plus, it will help you save a lot of money! Whether you need it for your next cocktail party or want to add it to your scrumptious desserts, you’ll find that you can use limoncello for a wide range of foods. In this article, we share our own homemade limoncello recipe that’s quick and easy to make while sharing important details about this tasty liqueur.  

What is Limoncello?

Limoncello (often misspelled as lemoncello) is a sweet liqueur usually made using lemon and other citrus fruits. It originated from the Amalfi Coast located in southern Italy where the famous Sorrento lemons are grown, although Limocello is now found all around Italy. Surprisingly enough, Limoncello can be made using a few simple ingredients such as 80-proof vodka, lemon zest, sugar, and water. 

To make your own limoncello, you will need to invest in simple tools and around a week, but it will all be worth it.   

What is it Used for?

Traditionally, Limoncello can be served at the start of each meal or when dinner is finished to aid digestion. Because of its high alcohol content, it’s usually served cold in a shot glass or small cup; however, it’s not meant to be taken in one mouthful but should instead be sipped slowly. Moreover, Italians will never use ice that can dilute its flavor so it’s best to keep it inside the freezer where it can be enjoyed ice cold. 

Plus, it can be served over cheesecake or gelato — there are also many other dessert recipes that call for limoncello. Finally, you can also use limoncello in many cocktail recipes.      

Homemade Limoncello Recipe

If you’re looking to get the best results, below is our step-by-step guide on how to make the best limoncello that’s both easy and delicious! 

Ingredients

  • 2 750ml bottles of 151-proof grain alcohol 
  • 17 lemons to make 50 grams of zest
  • 3.5 cups of sugar
  • 5 cups of water

1. Selecting Your Lemons 

The first thing you need to do is look for the perfect lemons; whenever possible, be sure to get organic lemons. You’ll be using their skin to make this recipe, so make sure they don’t come with pesticides. Try to look for lemons that come with smooth, thick skin which will be much easier to get zest from.  

2. Washing Your Lemons 

Now it’s time to wash your lemons; you’ll have to do it whether you bought organic or not but you’ll need to put in more effort if they’re not. Be sure to clean them using very warm water using a brush or a different kind of plastic scrubber. Be sure to remove all stamps and stickers along with as much wax as you can, then dry each one using paper towels.  

3. Zesting Your Lemons

Be sure to do this step quickly; using a vegetable peeler won’t cut it so you may want to invest in a zester tool to make quick work of your lemon. You might want to put down some aluminum foil to catch your zest. Using the zester, gently remove thin layers from the lemon but if you catch a bit of white pith (the white part under the zest), be sure to take it out or it will give your liqueur a bitter taste.   

This recipe uses 2 more lemons compared to the usual count of 15, which will produce 50 grams of zest; when you do this, you won’t have to think about running out of zest. Unfortunately, you can’t dig any more into your lemon once you reach the white areas, so make sure you use the whole lemon. This step will take up a lot of your time, but if you have patience, it will be worth it! 

4. Filtering Your Liquor

This step will need to happen simultaneously with zesting your lemons to save time; you can try using one of your water pitchers to help with this. Slowly pour one of your bottles in and let it go through the filter. When done, pour your liquor into a clean pitcher, then repeat this filtration process around 4 times for every bottle you use. 

For most people, just 1 bottle of grain alcohol should be enough for this recipe, but if you live in a state where grain alcohol isn’t sold, then you can substitute it for 100-proof vodka which has its own flavor profile but is still the right taste for limoncello.  

5. Adding Zest to Your Liquor

Combine your filtered liquor and zest into a clean glass jar or a large glass container and close it tight. If you find that it’s not tight enough, place some plastic wrap over your jar before closing the lid. Put some kind of label on your jar, jot down the date when it was made, and include important details on how you made it.  

6. Resting Your Infusion

This is the part where you’ll need a lot of patience; resting your infusion will take a long time, and you’ll need to give it a minimum of 45 days to allow the lemon flavor to infuse with your 750ml of alcohol. During the first week of your resting time, be sure to shake it around 4 times so that nothing settles at the bottom of your jar. Afterwards, you can place it somewhere out of sight, like your basement so that it doesn’t drive you crazy.   

7. Filtering Your Infusion

This will be the most labor-intensive part of this recipe and is also the most important; doing this filtering step will give your limoncello the clarity, color, and the kind of liquor flavor you want. During the first filtering pass, use a permanent coffee filter that’s flat-bottomed (you can buy these from a grocery store.) Then use a laddle to take your infused alcohol and place it through your filter — this pass will get rid of all the zest along with other debris. 

Next comes the hard part; take some disposable coffee filters that are flat-bottomed and place them inside your permanent filter. During this process, double-filtering occurs which will need to be repeated again. But on the last pass, you’ll just use the permanent filter on its own in case some debris makes its way back into your limoncello during your filtration. 

This means that you’ll need to do 2 filtrations with the permanent filter and 2 filtrations using the permanent and disposable filters. As you go through this process, you’ll want to extend a little patience and take your time to save as much lemon liqueur as possible. However, there may come a time when it seems like there’s leftover liquid at the bottom of the filter that won’t go through the filter; simply throw this away with your filter.  

8. Adding Simple Syrup

Now comes the simple syrup; the standard recipe will use 5 cups of water to bring to a boil then take it off the heat and mix in 3.5 cups of white sugar. Allow it to rest until it reaches room temperature but make sure to mix in filtered water. While there are other kinds of sugar, they tend to give off subtle flavors that you’ll taste in your final product.  

Once your sugar syrup gets cool enough, you can add it into your infused vodka/alcohol, and then pour it back inside your jar then screw your lid on and give it a good shake. Place another label on your jar and write down the date when you mixed your simple syrup into your infusion. 

9. Letting it Rest

Unfortunately, there’s more waiting ahead, so be sure to put your mixture back into your basement or some other dark place and wait a further 45 days. Giving your mixture more to rest will give it a smoother flavor, so if you can give it more time to rest, leave it until you need it. 

10. Storing the Limoncello

Be sure to wash and dry your bottles before using your limoncello. If you intend to give your limoncello away, be sure to mark clear labels on it that say it’s a gift and is not meant for resale. You can now use your limoncello to mix cocktails or create scrumptious desserts with a touch of lemon.  

Serving Your Limoncello

Because limoncello tends to mellow out a lot after the first week, be sure to do a bit of tasting before you use it. As mentioned, the longer you let it rest, the smoother the taste gets, which is more crucial if you’re using grain alcohol rather than vodka. Try tasting your batch during the first week, the sixth month, and after a year to see which is best for you. 

Conclusion

Now that you know how to make incredible limoncello, make sure that you only use fresh lemons and remove as much pith as possible to avoid getting a bitter taste in your limoncello. While you can change this recipe to suit your personal taste, such as using high-proof alcohol, or an extra cup of sugar, try the traditional method of making Italian limoncello first; you won’t regret it! With this homemade liqueur, you can make all kinds of desserts, drinks, and more, so what are you waiting for?

 

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