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03 July 2014

Homemade Limoncello

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! When I was a kid, my favorite color was yellow. I even had my room wallpapered in yellow gingham and if I could, I would have furnished it in the same color too. But I chose purple and green to make the eyes rest from the colors. Now that years have passed, I still think my favorite color is yellow even if I almost don't have anything in that color anymore.

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. Being a communal tree in our compound, all of us were free to get from it. 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. But almost immediately after that, our lemon tree just gave up yielding and died.

I abandoned my plan to make my own limoncello because it's so easy to restock here. You can find them easily at the supermarkets or specialty shops. When I saw some beautiful untreated lemons from Sorrento a few days ago, I thought that I should go for the limoncello at that moment. 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. Mine is in the refrigerator now, sitting there to be enjoyed in a few more days. It already tastes good, like how limoncello should be and since it came out well, I am here to share with you the recipe. This was based on the one 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. Cheers!

More Recipes with Lemons:

Homemade Limoncello

Yields about 3 cups

  • 6 untreated big lemons (possibly Sorrento lemon variety), rinsed and dried
  • 1-1/4 cups 95% drinking alcohol
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. After 15 days, strain the alcohol. Discard the rind.
  4. 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.
  5. When the syrup has cooled down, mix with the alcohol.
  6. 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.