Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur made from liquor, lemon zest, sugar and water.
Up until now, I had never tried limoncello, but since reading about how easy it is to make, I've been wanting to try for a few years now. So, I stopped procrastinating and made a double batch to give away as Christmas gifts this year.
This liqueur is quite simple to make and was well worth the zesting/peeling of 16 lemons.
1.5 liters of vodka
1.5 liters of sugar syrup (see below note)
lemon leaves (optional)
Purchase a 1.75 liter bottle of good vodka. Reserve (or drink) .25 liters.
Zest the lemons, making sure not to get any of the white peel, which will impart bitterness. Matt used the zester and I used a knife to shave off the peel (his way was more efficient, but hey, we only have 1 zester). Put the zest into the 1.5 liters of vodka, seal, and store in a dark place for at least 1 week.
After 1 week, make your sugar syrup. Heat the sugar and water until all sugar has dissolved and the mixture is clear. We used a 1:1 mixture of sugar, water, but next time I think I would do only 25% sugar. The total volume of sugar syrup should add up to 1.5 liters.
Mix this in with your lemony vodka and strain.
Pour into bottles and store refrigerated.
If you desire to tuck a few lemon leaves into the bottle (we used some from our tree out back), blanch first by dunking into boiling water for 10 seconds and then running cold water over the leaves to stop the cooking process.
It was nice to have a homemade gift to give away to friends at the Holidays. The liqueur turned out quite tasty as well. Although strong and sweet, it is drinkable straight. You can also mix with club soda and mint for a refreshing "lemonade". On New Year's Eve, Matt mixed some with ginger ale. The flavor was great (kinda like a lemon head), but entirely too sweet. That is why next time I think we'll cut back on the sugar. We would also like to try again soon with oranges and grapefruit since they are season.