26 November 2008


Our family was lucky enough to spend a good part of June in Italy this year. One of Italy's signature drinks is Limoncello. It is a lemon liqueur which originated in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi. Everywhere you go in Sorrento and Capri, there are hundreds of lemon trees and lemon decorations are on things everywhere. Every single yard has at least one lemon tree, but most homes have as many as their plot of land can sustain. The lemons we saw were fairly large. Not as big as Ponderosa lemons, but at least twice the size of Persian limes.

All the people we talked with were adamant NOT to use vodka to make limoncello. Everyone and their BIL makes limoncello in their homes there and they use 200 proof alcohol. The closest to that we can get here is Everclear, which is 190 proof. But 190 proof is not available in all states. It can't be sold in Alabama, so I had to get it in Tennessee. This is the recipe our friends in Rome gave me.

Sorrento Limoncello

6 Sorrento lemons
1 litre 200 proof alcohol
1 1/2 litres water
2 kilos sugar

Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler and put the peel in a bottle with the alcohol. Let steep in a dark place for at least 10 days, then filter out the zest.

Mix the water with the sugar and heat, stirring to dissolve. Mix the syrup with the alcohol and bottle. This will keep several years in the freezer.

Notes: To translate this to what is easily available here, this is what we worked out:

10-11 large lemons, preferably organic
1.75 litre bottle Everclear 190
2 2/3 litres water
3 1/2 lbs sugar

I made limoncello after we got home. Lemon peel in the Everclear. I let it sit for two weeks.

When I strained the lemon zest out, I was really surprised at how crisp it was. There was nothing left but the cellulose fibre. The zest strips literally broke in two pieces if you bent them at all. And it had turned an ivory colour. The Everclear had turned a beautiful yellow. For gifts I bottled some in vintage Mohawk liqueur bottles, but for us I just poured it back in the Everclear bottle. This is some seriously good stuff.

Care for a taste? Limoncello is stored in the freezer. It is typically served ice cold in chilled ceramic glasses. I think it looks pretty in cut glass, but could also use Harlequin yellow eggcups to serve it.

In Italy limoncello is served after a meal as a digestive. I do believe we might need this after the Thanksgiving meal tomorrow.
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Ben | Limoncelloquest.com said...

I usually make much larger batches but this one looks great. Has a great color and you have some neat serving glasses.

Becky said...

Thanks for stopping by Ben. I appreciate your comments. This was my first time to make this recipe, so I was delighted with how well it turned out.