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Deborah's Limoncello Recipe
Limoncello is a liqueur made from lemons. In Italy, it is usually served
after dinner. You will find locally made Limoncello in Sorrento (near the
Amalfi coast) and in Liguria. Both of these areas grow the lemons used to
create the Limoncello. If you want to have the taste of Italy at home, try
this recipe to make your own.
Please note that this is a very detailed recipe for those who have never
tackled liqueur making before. Many Limoncello recipes are much simpler and
- One Bottle (750 ml) Everclear (95% alcohol 190 Proof)
- One Bottle (750 ml) good but not necessarily premium vodka (40% alcohol
- 15 large thick skinned bright yellow lemons (without scars or flaws
in the skin if possible.)
- 750 ml (about 3 cups) filtered tap water or distilled water (not mineral
- 4 cups pure cane white sugar (this will give thin syrup consistency;
if you prefer a thicker syrup, experiment with increasing your sugar by
- A very clean and dry gallon glass jar (the kind you make sun tea in
- Large supplies of unbleached cone coffee filters; half of them #2 size
and half of them #4 size
- 22 clean, 100 ml. bottles that seal tightly. I found mine at Cost Plus/World
Market. They are clear glass with narrow necks. The ceramic looking white
hard plastic stoppers have orange rubber gaskets and built in metal hasps
to hold the stopper tight. They cost $1.99 each. If you would like to try
to get the exact same bottle, the label says World Market "Spain" K1 and
the UPC code is 2056 8498.)
- One large gallon sized glass (pyrex style) pitcher
- One cup sized metric measuring cup
- One punch ladle
- Two funnels with inch mouths. One should have a bowl capacity to fit
the #4 coffee filter, the other to fit the #2 coffee filter.
- Pour the bottle of Everclear and the bottle of vodka into the gallon
- Try to use organic lemons or make sure that lemons are cleaned to remove
all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals. Dry the lemons. Use a potato
peeler to peel just the yellow part of the skin off the lemons. Make sure
you have NO white pith on the back of the peels, because this causes bitterness
in the finished liqueur. Try to make the peel pieces as large as possible,
because this will make the straining process easier.
- Put the lemon peels in the gallon jar and stir gently.
- Cover tightly and put away in a cool (not cold) dark place for alcohol
to extract oils from peels, creating an infusion.
Days 8, 22, & 36
- Gently stir lemon peels to refresh exposure to alcohol. Return to cool,
- Gently stir lemon peels.
- Scoop out one of the larger peels and test flexibility. If peel breaks
like a potato chip, you will move on to the next step. If peel is still
flexible enough to bend without breaking, return to cool dark place and
try again in another week.
- Dissolve sugar in water and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 5
- Set syrup aside to cool. It must be room temp before adding to infusion.
- Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop lemon peels from the infusion and
discard. To avoid creating small pieces that will make straining more difficult,
try not to break peels as you remove them.
- Using the larger funnel, the ladle, and #4 coffee filters, slowly strain
infusion through filters into large pitcher. This is a messy process. The
filters will clog quickly and you will use many of them.
- Rinse and dry gallon jar.
- Repeat straining process, transferring infusion from pitcher to original
gallon jar by straining again through #4 coffee filters.
- Return filtered infusion to jar and add COOLED syrup.
- Return to cool dry place for 40 days to begin mellowing process that
combines alcohol infusion with syrup to create Limoncello.
Note: If you moisten the filters before the straining, you will not waste
liqueur by soaking it into the filter.
- Begin filtering Limoncello. Use punch ladle to pour a small amount into
a filter-lined funnel held over the small measuring cup.
- Fill measuring cup to an even ml level. (100, 200, 300, etc.)
- Using smaller funnel and #2 sized filters, filter one last time into
individual 100-ml bottles. You have now filtered the liqueur a total of
- Seal bottles VERY tightly. Remember, if you are using different bottles
and are sealing them by corking -- corks breathe. So consider dipping the
neck several times in melted wax after corking.
- Label and/or tag bottles.
- Return to cool dark place for storage.
Branding Your Limoncello
Your Limoncello is now ready to enjoy. However, the longer it sits and
"ages" the smoother it becomes.
I start my batches in the spring/summer when the lemons are at their best.
Then I give it as gifts at Christmas time. Since Limoncello is a favorite
warm weather treat it will have aged an entire year by the time most people
drink it. VERY smooth and delicious!
The 100ml size bottles make ideal gifts. You should label the bottles with
some basic information and a disclaimer (You don't want to be arrested by
ATF as a Bootlegger).
I label my bottles and add a decorative tag. The label I created for my
bottles is printed on clear Avery shipping labels (#5165) and has a picture
of our house in Umbria.
The label says:
Limoncello di Casa Piazzetta
A homemade Lemon Liqueur Gift To You From Deborah Horn
Here is what I put on my tags:
As an after dinner drink, serve one ounce in a small chilled aperitif glass.
As a refreshing dessert, pour an ounce over a large scoop of shaved ice and
garnish with a lemon twist.
Limoncello is best when served directly from the freezer.
Ingredients: beverage alcohol; distilled water; pure cane sugar, & lemon oil
infused from the peel of fresh lemons.
100 ml -- 45% alcohol by volume
This liqueur is homemade for private use only. Not intended to be sold or
© Deborah Horn, 2002
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