Wrinkly southern Italian lemon skins soaked in pure alcohol, then mixed with sugar syrup—and there you have the second most popular drink in Italy. Some say it originated in Roman times, others claim it’s a 20th Century marketing miracle. The best part? You can make it yourself! Simple instructions below for this liqueur, aperitif or after dinner drink. Serve it ice cold, at room temperature or mixed with sparkling water or champagne.
- 10 lemons, washed and dried—even if they’re not wrinkly
- 1 750-ml bottle of cheap vodka (pricy flavored vodka will ruin the batch)
- Sugar syrup
Using a very sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove the peels from the lemons in thin strips—only the yellow skin, not the white pith—this is the ONLY hard part. Chop the peels roughly and transfer to a lidded glass jar. Pour vodka over lemon skins and cover jar. Store jar out of sunlight for a month or so—it’s worth the wait. *
When infusion is complete, make simple syrup by boiling 1½ to 2 cups water, lower to simmer, add 1½ to 2 cups sugar (equal measure) and stir until dissolved—let cool. Meanwhile, strain infusion through coffee filter into a clean glass jar, then stir in cooled syrup. At this point, taste for strength and sweetness—more syrup (equal amounts sugar and water) may better suit your taste. Either transfer limoncello into small bottles or store in clean quart bottles—store in fridge or not. Makes a great gift if you have any left over.
*All those naked lemons left? Lemonade, iced tea, or—juice the lemons and freeze in ice cube trays, then store in freezer bag. You’ll have a tblsp or so of frozen lemon juice cubes for drinks or recipes.
The Kitchen Hive