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Homemade Limoncello

15 beautiful little lemons
15 Beautiful Little Lemons

I remember a few years ago my bosses went to Italy and came back with a mysterious yellow liquor in a small bottle. When I asked what it was I was told it was called Limoncello. Now growing up in Ohio I had never been exposed to or even heard of Limoncello. (But if you need any advice on apple jack or moonshine I’m very experienced). When my bosses pulled a bottle out of the freezer and offered me up a small glass I had to say yes. I remember taking a sip of this wonderfully sweet yet tangy drink and falling madly in love. Now since then I have had very little contact with Limoncello, in fact I almost forget about it. Then last year I stumbled upon a website that talked about how you can make your own Limoncello. This recipe was a short ten day adventure, but I was determined to find a more traditional recipe.

After searching I settled on a recipe that takes over eighty days and a lot more work than the original recipe I found. Now I’m not sure because it takes longer that it makes it “traditional” but I’m hoping it does make it taste better than the ten day recipe. If not then I’m pretty sure I just wasted a lot of time and energy… 🙂 My plan is to hopefully give away little bottles of this Limoncello to family at Christmas. *Side note: Christmas is really not that far away and I’m already starting to figure out what cookies I’m going to make 🙂 So excited! Ok back to the Limoncello. These pictures are only from the first step of directions and I will have an update in about 40 days or so on how it is going. Today I stirred the Limoncello and only after 8 days it had a much better smell than the extremely strong alcohol smell of the first day. You can see and smell that the lemon oils are starting to infuse with the vodka and grain alcohol. It smelled so summery and delicious. I can’t wait to taste the end result 🙂 Enjoy!!!

In Goes The Vodka
In Goes The Vodka

You should use a decent vodka, but it does not have to be premium. I chose Smirnoff because I like the flavor and it’s not overly expensive.

Pouring in the Grain Alcohol.
Pouring in the Grain Alcohol.

Be careful with this stuff! In some states it’s illegal to buy grain alcohol.  The most common brand for grain alcohol is Everclear, but I could only find Graves XXX at my liquor store.  I’m pretty sure they named it Graves XXX because if you drink to much you will end up in the grave! Seriously this stuff if not to be messed with. It’s 190 proof and actually burned my lips when I licked the top of the bottle to taste it.

Waiting To Be Mixed.
Waiting To Be Mixed.

It’s really important to not get a lot of pith on the rind, but it’s nearly impossible to get none at all. It’s also important to get the peels as large as you can. It apparently will make straining the liquor easier in the upcoming steps.  With all my leftover lemons we made two huge batches of lemonade. It was so super delicious! Here is the recipe:

1 C. lemon juice

1 C. simple syrup

4 C. water

Mix together and drink…sooo yummy!

Stir Stir Stir!
Stir Stir Stir!

Mix well to start the infusing process.

Now We Wait...
Now We Wait…

In about 40 days step two should start taking place. Until then we wait wait wait….


Ingredients and tools for step one:

1 750ml. bottle of vodka 80 proof

1 750ml. bottle of grain alcohol 190 proof

15 large thick skinned bright yellow lemons

A very clean dry gallon glass jar with tight fitting lid

Day 1:
Pour the bottle of Everclear and the bottle of vodka into the gallon jar.

Try to use organic lemons or make sure that lemons are cleaned to remove all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals. Dry the lemons.

Use a potato peeler to peel just the yellow part of the skin off the lemons. Make sure you have NO white pith on the back of the peels, because this causes bitterness in the finished liqueur. Try to make the peel pieces as large as possible, because this will make the straining process easier.

Put the lemon peels in the gallon jar and stir gently.

Cover tightly and put away in a cool (not cold) dark place for alcohol to extract oils from peels, creating an infusion.

Days 8, 22, & 36:
Gently stir lemon peels to refresh exposure to alcohol. Return to cool, dark place.

Day 43:
Gently stir lemon peels.

Scoop out one of the larger peels and test flexibility. If peel breaks like a potato chip, you will move on to the next step. If peel is still flexible enough to bend without breaking, return to cool dark place and try again in another week.

*** UPDATE*** Please click here to read part two.

Source: Slow Travel Italy

34 responses »

  1. I never knew it was such a process to make this. Should be fun waiting in anticipation for the final out come. I think I could use a glass of that right now.

    • I found easier quicker recipes but I’m hoping since this recipe takes more time that it will yield in a stronger more traditional flavored limoncello.

  2. I’m anxious to see how this one turns out… I make my own extracts and have been curious about trying my own liquors. I love the idea of giving little bottles of homemade limoncello as Christmas gifts, too. Betcha it’ll be a first for everyone who receives it!

  3. What an awesome idea.. and how clever of you to start thinking Christmas already. This is to be one of MY gifts right? Il email you my address;)

  4. That’s such a fantastic idea for Christmas! I absolutely love the holidays, and I start planning saving recipes for Christmas and Thanksgiving in January 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing how the limoncello works out! I went on a culinary tour in Boston, and one of the stops was tasting limoncello in an Italian wine shop in the North End… soooo tasty!

    • Hooray you are just like me! I can’t help but love the holidays. All the baking and yummy delicious food. I can’t wait to start making my holiday treats.

  5. I have always wanted to make Limoncello!! I’ve bookmarked it and hope I can get on it quick enough to use as gifts….YUMMy! 🙂

  6. Oooh limoncello is a potent and wonderful thing, isn’t it? It makes a great sippin’ drink but watch how many you sip… I’ve ended up on my butt after trying this the first time!

    Looks great! I’m excited to see how yours turns out after 40 days!!!

    • Oh yeah! It’s something that is definitely tasty to sip but too much could really do you in. Have you ever seen that Danny Davito video where he is drunk off limoncello? It’s hilarious.

  7. Thanks for sharing the recipe for homemade limoncello! Can’t wait to hear about how it turns out!

    • Mmmm I can’t wait to taste it when it’s finished:) We shall all virtually share a glass when it’s completed. In about 80 days we will see the finished product.

  8. How interesting! I’d never heard of limoncello!

  9. I have been seeing this a lot lately – thanks for the recipe I better make it now to be ready for the holidays

  10. nice! never even heard of limoncello! what a great way to cool down in the summer.

  11. It should be so much fun to see how this turns out! I didn’t even know there was such thing as 150 proof I’m sure this will be great. What a nice gift!

  12. Oooh, I can’t wait to see how the Limoncello turns out!

    It’s funny that you mention that you’re thinking about Christmas cookie recipes…me too! I kind-of got sick of all the traditional cookies that my mom and I have been making basically my whole life (cut outs, russian tea cakes, hello dollies, stuff like that), so I’m looking for some new Christmas cookie recipes…let me know if you find any that look good! 😉

  13. I only had limoncello once and loved it…I am so curious to see how the homemade will turn out…love your pictures!

  14. I’m so impressed! You have such patience to wait 80 days. And wow – that grain alcohol is strong stuff! But I bet this is going to be such a treat.

    It will make excellent Xmas gifts. It will be here before we know it! And here I thought this was my gift! Tee-hee – totally kidding!

  15. Just stumbled upon your blog. I love it and this is a wonderful Limoncello post. Anything with vodka, I like :D.

  16. This would make killer Christmas gifts–I know I wouldn’t turn down a bottle.

    Great instructions. Thanks!

  17. so easy and simple. i shud give a try!! yellowy pics looks great!!
    have a nice weekend!

  18. I am sure your friends and family will be simply blown away by your efforts come the holidays. Looking forward to seeing the outcome!

  19. This is amazing. I want a tall glass right now!! I don’t think I even have the patience for this kind of thing. Excited to see the end result!

  20. What an awesome recipe.. It never occurred to me to make my own. Thanks!

  21. i really need to try this

  22. Thanks for the recipe. I have been looking for one.

  23. wooop… woopp… these is wonderful..

  24. so don’t leave us hanging (or did I miss it) are were there yes did the lemon peel break or do we need more time in the cool dark place.

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