Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur with the nice fresh taste of lemons. It is easy to make yourself, and in many trattorie in Italy it is customary to get a glass of ice cold homemade limoncello on the house when you get the check. As with many Italian recipes, the quality of the ingredients (in this case the lemons) is important, and the ingredients are not always simple to find (in this case 95% proof alcohol). 95% proof alcohol is difficult to find and expensive in the Netherlands, but in Italy it is sold by every supermarket. So I brought some home from my latest trip.
Since you will be infusing the liqueur with the zest of the lemons, they need to be ‘untreated’. Most lemons (and oranges) are treated with wax. Since you’d like to make a lemon liqueur rather than a wax liqueur, you need untreated lemons. The best lemons are those from the Sorrento peninsula, but you may be hard pressed to find those.
Making limoncello is easy: you zest the lemons and mix them with alcohol. You let this steep for 3 weeks to a month. Then you add a simple syrup and allow the liqueur to age for weeks. In my case I followed a recipe from GialloZafferano and matured my limoncello for 6 weeks. I really liked the result, it had a well rounded full lemon flavor. The nice thing about making something from scratch that you can determine exactly how it will taste. If you use the amount of sugar in this recipe, the limoncello will be quite sweet. If you like it less sweet, simply reduce the sugar from 600 grams (3 cups) to 500 grams (2 1/2 cups).
Limoncello should be served ice cold and is usually stored in the freezer. Due to the alcohol content the limoncello won’t freeze, but it will become sluggishly thick. The leftover lemons can be juiced and used to make lemon sorbet.
As mentioned in my previous post, we participated in the Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade. And guess what? A photo of me in a pink tux singing on top of a pink grand piano was featured on the 8 o’clock news on national TV!
Rather than on the road, the gay pride parade in Amsterdam is held on the water of the Prinsengracht, one of the famous canals. It was a lot of work to participate, but also a lot of fun! It has meant that I’ve been cooking and thus blogging less lately.
Anyway, this is a foodie blog, so on with the limoncello.
zest of 5 lemons
500 ml (2 cups) 95% proof alcohol
750 ml (3 cups) water
500-600 grams (2 1/2 to 3 cups) sugar
If your peeler is not very sharp, you may need to remove the white part with a small but sharp knife.