15 Feb 2010

Limoncello (and the flu)

(Zeke is ill, so I let him bring his cozy chair into the kitchen to hang out with me, so that he wasn't all alone in the living room.)

I'm a total Limoncello fanatic, but not a fan of the cost, and I like to be able to control the sweetness. The commercially available variety is super sweet, a little too sugary for me. I also like to be able to use organic lemons, free of pesticides etc.

I'm making up a fresh batch that will be ready just in time for my little sister's hen party in April. (the longer you let this stuff sit and brew, the better. 40 days or more is best!)

I make mine with 20 organic lemons and a 750ml bottle of vodka. (With 20 lemons, you really could use a whole litre of vodka.)
First you wash your lemons and pat them dry. Then peel the yellow zest with a carrot peeler. It's good to get a little bit of the pith (the white part) but not too much or it will make your batch bitter.

You could discard the rest of the lemons...but that would just be silly. Make some lemonade, or freeze the juice for later use.

Pack the peels into a sterelized (I had to use two because my big jar broke!) and pour the vodka over the peels. Pack the peels down in the jar so that they're completely submerged. Close the lid and voila. Let it sit in a cool dark place for 40 days, and stir it occasionally or shake it up.

The color of the vodka will start to brighten, and the peels will start to fade.
You can switch the peels at 20 days if you want to make it really strong.

After 40 days, you need to make a sugar and water syrup over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let it get too hot, or you'll have hard candy.

Let the syrup cool  to room temperature. Pour the lemon infused vodka into a separate large bottle, pitcher, or pan, (doesn't matter, so long as it's large.) Strain out the peels completely, so that all you have is liquid. 
If you used a zester to peel your lemon, you'll need cheese cloth to do this. If you used a carrot peeler or a knife though, it's pretty easy just to pick them out. Just be sure to squeeze the peels to get all the vodka out. They'll be pretty plump with juice at this point.

Once you have the vodka strained, slowly add a bit of the syrup to the pitcher and stir.   
It's up to you how sweet you make this. (You actually don't have to sweeten it at all if you don't want to. You could just leave it as it is, and use it straight from the jar).

 I don't like to make it super sweet, because I don't drink it straight. I usually serve it in club soda with a tiny bit of lemon juice. Or even in some sprite.

Bottle in wine bottles, canning jars, whatever you like, and refrigerate or freeze. I usually freeze some and refrigerate the rest. (I don't always refrigerate it, sometimes it just sits in the pantry. It's just a lot better cold!)

Serve it over ice with some club soda and a dash of fresh squeezed lemon juice, or in your favorite cola.

Nothing is better on a hot summer evening!

Even Zeke likes it!

Just kidding. He's just having broth;)


  1. Ha! You are funny.
    I want to make some.. 40 days? The babe will be born by then.. we can celebrate with it!
    You make me laugh .. I hope Zeke is feeling better. My dad swears by a large teaspoon of honey/whiskey when one is sick. I am sure he gave this to me when I was small. Sure of it.

  2. What a great recipe. I like the idea of using organic lemons. This is a must try for me. Hope your poor Zeke feels much better soon!

  3. YUM! And I bet your house smells delicious while making it!

  4. well, you've propably seen that I'm checking out all your blog (I'm discovering so many beautiful things!) buthere I have to say thank you thank you thank you!!! I LOVE LIMONCELLO! and I've always wanted to learn how to make it. Just a little question though, do you think is would work if you use Absolute Lemon (lemon flavoured vodka...) or it's better to use just the plain one?

  5. Hey, the lemon zest may be better than any flu vaccine.