During my first trip to Italy I spent a short time on the stunning Amalfi Coast where I was introduced to a wonderful, lemony concoction – limoncello, an Italian digestivo.
In every village I visited along that breathtaking coast, I came across the lemony after dinner liquor. I was fortunate and had a contact in the area who arranged a tour of a small limoncello producer. The tour concluded with a tasting; as it turned out, nearly everyone in the region brews their own version of the elixir so, fortunately for me, my first tasting was not my last.
All these years later, I still enjoy an occasional after dinner sip of the Italian liquor; but now I also enjoy making my own version and sharing it with family and friends.
The process for making limoncello is very simple…
12-15 large lemons (you want the lemons to have bright yellow skins)
2 – 750ml bottles of Everclear (I have also used 100-proof vodka)
3-4 cups sugar
5 cups water
Carefully wash and gently grade, into long strips or strings, the peels of the lemons (You can use a veggie peeler, being careful to avoid the white pithy rind as it will make for a bitter batch) .
Put the peels and the alcohol in a lidded glass jar (plastic wrap can be used instead of a lid) – place in a dark place for at least 7 days (I steep mine for up to 3 months).
The alcohol will gradually take on a lovely yellow color
After steeping for the desired time –
Mix together sugar and water – bring to a gentle boil and boil for 5-7 minutes – making a simple syrup
Completely cool the simple syrup
Once cooled pour the simple syrup into the lemon/alcohol mixture – continue to steep for another 5-7 days
Finally strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth or coffee filters (dampen coffee filter first)
Store in tightly lidded glass bottles in the freezer
Finally, invite over friends and share the sweetness of your limoncello and some dolce vita – sweet life.