It’s Spring! Time for Liquid Sunshine: Limoncello

Homemade Limoncello

Today is technically Spring! But, as is often the case, New York and the greater northeast region for that matter, has not quite gotten the memo. I heard some super mean rumor about it snowing this weekend. Harhar, real funny, guys. Psych! I’m not laughing. Good thing I have my very own batch of liquid sunshine to trick me into thinking I’m really on a boat in Capri with Lolita glasses heading to some blue lagoon.

1 lemons bowl

Limoncello is a sweet, lemon liqueur native to Italy, and is made with lemon peels, sugar and high proof grain alcohol. The commercial stuff is often very cloyingly sweet and doesn’t have that fresh zing that you might get from the home made version. Luckily, this is one of the easiest liqueurs to make at home. It just takes a little time…

I am #blessed to have recently participated in the making of this Homemade Sunny Delight, Booze Edition, while also snagging a bottle for myself. All because my dear friend Catharine is slightly obsessed with all things Limoncello. She’s made it a ton, but this time around, I thought I’d hop onto her lemon train and ride out these last couple of months to see the process firsthand from start to finish. And, I was able to document each of the three steps in order to share it with all of you!

This recipe was adapted by Catharine “from her friend Ryan’s Dad’s recipe, which he got from an Italian professor at an academic conference in Naples.” I think I got that right. I know that sounds pretty far removed, but I saw the original recipe and charming note from the Italian professor, and the basic recipe is pretty intact. Catharine just lengthened the time that the alcohol and lemon peel would hang out together. She found, through research, that it seemed a few weeks was average for that stage.

Catharine’s Limoncello Recipe
What you’ll need:
First Stage:
good peeler
large glass cannister
zest of 10 lemons (rinsed, ideally organic)
750 ml high proof grain alcohol
Second Stage:
2.5 cups water + 2 cups sugar = combine and boil to make a syrup. Cool.
Third Stage:
5-8 bottles

2 lemon peel

Try to peel the lemon skin very thin, without getting the pith – the white part closer to the fruit, to prevent bitterness.

5 booze pour

After all the lemons are peeled, add the alcohol.

6 lemon peel jar

Label and then put in a dark, cool spot for two weeks.

6 lemon peel jar date

Make sure to label it with the date you want to retrieve it as a reminder!

7 Peel Jar2

Two weeks later, your alcohol should be fully infused with all of those lemon peels.

8 taking peels out

Remove the lemon peels from the alcohol and place in a strainer.

10 strain over peels

Once all of the peels are removed, strain the rest of the lemon zest from the alcohol.

11 add sugar water

Add the cooled sugar syrup to the infusion.

12 date to remove above

Store the liqueur at least one month, in a dark spot for all of the flavors to mellow.

After a month…

13 bottling

It’s time to bottle!

14 bottling above

15 bottling

16 finished bottles

Look how beautiful this all turned out!

18 glass limoncello

Limoncello is best served VERY cold. I have most often had it as a digestif – an after dinner treat, but I love to use quality limoncello as a cocktail ingredient. In fact, it wasn’t long after I brought my freshly bottled elixir home with me, that I got cracking on a cocktail. So…stay tuned. Get ready for the most delicious Lemon Drop you’ve ever tasted. This isn’t your college bar’s version!

4 Comments on It’s Spring! Time for Liquid Sunshine: Limoncello

  1. Lisa Sipe
    March 20, 2015 at 11:01 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! We visited Bologna, Italy last year and were lucky enough to have dinner with an Italian dinner that served us their homemade Limoncello. Since then I’ve wanted to make my own. I’m also wondering if using Meyer Lemons would be good?

    • Prairie Rose
      March 20, 2015 at 11:34 am (6 years ago)

      Thank you for stopping by! Limoncello in Italy is like nothing else. Your dinner in Bologna sounds divine. You can definitely use Meyer Lemons for this. Lots of recipes call for a mix of citrus and we even added the peel of a few limes (even though it’s not noted in the recipe here) for a little differentiation. I would love to try with some grapefruits next time. Doesn’t that sound yummy??

  2. Robin Visser
    March 20, 2015 at 11:34 am (6 years ago)

    Love Limoncello. One of my favorite Italian restaurants serves it as an after dinner drink, complimentary. Can’t wait to make this.

    • Prairie Rose
      March 20, 2015 at 12:26 pm (6 years ago)

      I love that! I worked at an Italian restaurant many moons ago that would do that for special customers. And I always thought it was a lovely gesture. You must be one of their favorites too!


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