(Italian lemon-flavored liqueur)
This popular after-dinner liqueur from the south of Italy is classically made with lemons from the Isle of Capri. Families all along the Amalfi Coast make their own limoncello with lemons from backyard gardens. Make this delicious beverage in the late winter or early spring when lemons are at their peak, and it will be ready to enjoy by the time the hottest days of summer come around.
Makes about 2 quarts
- Lemons -- 15
- Vodka, 100-proof -- 2 (750-ml) bottles
- Sugar -- 4 cups
- Water -- 5 cups
- Scrub the lemons with soap and a vegetable brush to remove any wax or pesticides. Remove the peels from the lemons using a vegetable peeler. Take care not to include any of the bitter white pith.
- Place the lemon peels in a large (1-gallon) bottle or jar. Pour the first bottle of vodka over the lemon peels and seal tightly. Set the bottle in a cool, dark place and steep for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking every day or so.
- Mix the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil until the syrup begins to thicken, from 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Pour the sugar syrup and the second bottle of vodka into the bottle with the lemon zest mixture. Mix well and set aside for another 4 to 6 weeks.
- Strain the peels from the liqueur and discard. Pour the limoncello into decorative bottles and in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve on a hot summer day over crushed ice.
- Arancello: Substitute orange zest for the lemon zest.
- Limoncello cocktail: Mix finished limoncello half-and-half with tonic water, champagne or prosecco for a refreshing cocktail.
- Serve limoncello over strawberries or ice cream for a grown-up dessert.