Though we have been to Italy several times and become more enchanted with every
opportunity, we have tended to just enjoy the lovely inexpensive local wines
('table wine') at dinner; feeling fortunate to be able to partake in such a nice
treat at so reasonable a cost. Not being big drinkers, we haven't really
ventured too far from that simple pleasure. That was until we went to dinner
with our friend Morena in Bergamo. After a very satisfying meal we
were pondering the beauty of a shared sweet when the waiter brought us each a
slender glass of
limoncello in order to
cleanse the palate for dessert.
I fell under the spell of this lightly fragrant, crisp, lemony liqueur. Its
like drinking liquid sunshine! So began to order it after dinner and discovered
most restaurants have their own special versions. I've been
experimenting with different recipes and this is the one that comes closest to the smoothest Limoncello I've tasted.
Microplane grater or lemon zester
One-gallon re-sealable glass jar with secure lid for infusing/storing
Additional smaller bottles that seal tightly, for your actual limoncello batch
2 pieces of cheesecloth
17 thick, yet smooth-skinned, fragrant, bright yellow, vine ripened lemons (organic is ideal)
2 (750 ml) bottles 100-proof vodka (I used
4 cups white granulated sugar
5 cups filtered water
Wash lemons with vegetable brush & hot water; removing any reside of pesticides or wax. Pat dry.
In a large glass (1-gallon) jar with secure lid, add one 750 ml bottle of 100-proof vodka or Everclear and the lemon zest while it is
being zested. When zesting lemons, be very careful to avoid the bitter white pith - using only yellow outer part of rind (this step is
all about quality over quantity.) Save the lemons for another use such as making lemonade. Cover jar and let rest in a cool, dark place
for 30 days (no need to stir, except shake bottle once in a while when you think of it). The vodka will slowly take on the yellow,
aromatic fragrance of the lemons.
After the month has passed, add the 2nd - 750 ml bottle of 100-proof vodka (or Everclear) to the lemon zest infusion and stir.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat; bring to a very gentle boil for approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and let this
cool completely before adding to Limoncello mixture. Cover jar tightly and allow it to steep for another 30 or more days.
After that 2nd month is over, strain the Limoncello into prepared bottle(s) with a moistened, double layered cheesecloth; while
being sure to squeeze every last drop of the intensely flavored liquid from those zested lemon peels.
Discard the lemon zest. Once the bottles of Limoncello liqueur are sealed tightly, keep chilled & serve cold. The flavor gets smoother
after the 1st week and beyond. I keep it in the fridge but you may want to store in the freezer until ready to share. Yummy and makes
being far from Italy a little less tragic between visits.
Drop me a line in case you try this recipe and let me know what you think.
(Click button for details on Arnell's next tour of Italy)