When you wish you took home that bottle of limoncello from Italy, don’t worry, because you can make it in your own kitchen with just four ingredients and some patience, as it takes 30 days of waiting, but just 30 minutes of preparing.
By Rowena Dumlao – Giardina
When I was in Sorrento, along the Amalfi Coast, I saw a production of limoncello and a whole range of lemon products. The vibrancy of yellow things left and right was a spectacle! I think for that reason, I have certain attachment to lemons. Their vibrancy shines in the kitchen and the aroma makes me think of an everlasting summer. Lemons give me a reason to smile about, because it evokes sunshine. And the flavor, well, that’s another thing. Be it savory or sweet, I will eat anything with lemons!
I think I can easily say that it is my favorite ingredient in cooking too. For years, I had been wanting to make my own limoncello. When we moved to our current house, there was a big lemon tree that was continuously producing beautiful lemons. It was just right outside our bedroom window so I see it everyday. On a bountiful season, we gave some to my husband’s aunt. Since our lemons were never treated, they were perfect for making limoncello. When she gave us a bottle of the finished product about a month later, I was inspired to make my own too.
When I saw some beautiful untreated lemons from Sorrento once, I thought that it was the right time to make my own limoncello. Getting the right alcohol, the lemons and a box of white sugar, I was excited as a kid with my stash. It takes almost a month (some would do it less and some even two months) to have a good limoncello. This was based on the recipe that was passed on to me by my husband’s aunt. I just made the soaking and maturing longer and I put less sugar. Always keep your limoncello cold to make drinking it pleasant. Cin cin!
- 6 untreated or organic big lemons (possibly the Sorrento lemon variety), rinsed and dried
- 1-1/4 cups 95% drinking alcohol
- 1-1/4 cups water
- ¾ cup granulated white sugar
- Using a potato peeler (much better than using a knife), peel the lemons. Make sure you don't get the white pith under the skin. Using a potato peeler assures you that the peeling doesn't reach the white part of the lemons. You will only be needing the rind for this recipe. Use the juice for other recipes.
- In a sealable bottle, mix the alcohol and the rind. The rind should be completely submerged in the alcohol. Seal and leave in a shelf (away from the light) for 15 days.
- After 15 days, strain the alcohol then discard the rind.
- On the 15th day, prepare the syrup. Over medium heat, in a small saucepan, mix the water and the sugar then boil. Simmer until it attains a light syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Let it cool.
- When the syrup has cooled down, mix the alcohol.
- In the bottle where you will keep the limoncello, transfer the limoncello. Close and keep for 10 - 15 days in the refrigerator before serving. The limoncello can last for a couple of months in the refrigerator.
Rowena Dumlao - Giardina is the author and photographer of Apron and Sneakers and The Chosen Table. Besides her blog, she's also a recipe developer and a travel writer for other food and travel sites.