Limoncello AKA Lemoncello
Today’s recipe is a super easy and delicious “digestif” called limoncello (also known as lemoncello). A “digestif” is a drink/cocktail you usually sip after dinner as a palate cleanser and in theory to aid digestion. I fell in love with this tasty little drink on Christmas Eve 2 years ago in Chicago. My Fiancée, her parents and I went to a great little Italian restaurant for Christmas Eve Dinner as her apartment at the time was much too tiny for all 4 of us to cook and eat comfortably there. We ended up taking seats at the bar because the dining room was unbelievably (surprisingly?) packed! Turned out sitting at the bar was the best decision we could have made as after dinner a couple of the servers and bartenders brought up a yellow concoction in a glass bottle and started pouring us small tasters of it. This was my first time ever experiencing how delicious homemade limoncello could be! They poured freely and we didn’t turn any down which made Christmas Eve in frosty Chicago much warmer.
After some trial and error I have come up with my own recipe for limoncello that also works just as great for orangecello. The orange version has some wonderfully light clove and spice notes in it. I am currently making my first batch of limecello as well and am hoping it will go great with Mexican and other spicy food.
This recipe is just for the limoncello however all you have to do to make the orange or lime version is just follow the same recipe but sub out the same amount of oranges or limes for the lemons. Also this is a double batch which I like to make because the longer you keep the limoncello the better it gets. So if you’d rather start off with a more manageable size batch just halve all of the ingredients but keep timing the same.
-2 750 ml bottles of Everclear grain alcohol – Be very careful with this! Flammable and very strong, never for drinking unless diluted!
-20 fresh lemons
-5 cups white granulated sugar
-8 cups water
-Medium to large glass container
When I make this recipe I have a large 2 gallon glass serving container I use which holds it nicely while storing and makes pouring into other bottles easy when ready to drink.
You’re going to need to remove the peels from all 20 lemons which sounds like a lot of work but isn’t too bad if you do it the quick way like I do. Slice the ends off each lemon then simply slice down the sides taking nice thick pieces of peel off. Don’t mind if you get some white pith or actual lemon on the slices you won’t notice this in the finished product.
Pour both bottles of Everclear into your glass container then add all the lemon peels you sliced off. Put this concoction into a cabinet or place somewhat out of the sun and let it rest for 2 weeks. I like to agitate/stir it once every couple days. After 2 weeks the peels will appear mostly white and will be hard to the touch and it should be fairly obvious all the lemon essence has been soaked out and into the Everclear.
After the 2 weeks has passed strain the liquid into a large bowl making sure to get all the pieces of peel out and discard them. Now prepare a simple syrup by heating 5 cups white granulated sugar with 8 cups of water. Stir slowly while heating until all the sugar has dissolved into the water. Let that sit and cool to room temp then stir again and pour it and your Everclear/lemon mix back into your large glass container to rest for another 2 weeks. I also like to agitate/stir this mixture every couple days so everything gets blended nicely. After 2 weeks (1 month since we started) I like to fill a couple smaller glass bottles for keeping the limoncello frosty in the freezer. Ice cold is definitely the best way to serve this and keep the servings small because even diluted it is still fairly strong. The strength of it can also get somewhat masked by the lemony sweetness so be careful how much you consume! I love a nice little 1-2 oz taster after dinner. Also I juice the lemons after I peel them all and we either make fresh lemonade (which unfortunately takes a LOT of sugar) or simply keep the juice to drink in water during the week for health benefits.