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Making and Enjoying Limoncello

Updated on June 5, 2010

I once wrote an article about what you can do with extra lemons when you have them and got a comment from someone that I'd forgotten to include making limoncello. I always love learning about things that I don't know anything about and this was one of those things so I promptly started looking into what this might be. It turned out that this turned me on a drink that I can't remember living without. It turns out that it's primarily an Italian liqueur which can be bought in stores but which is traditionally just made at home.

The reason that people prefer to make their own limoncello is that the lemon taste is stronger when you make it yourself than when you purchase it made from someone else. Additionally, it's cheaper to make limoncello yourself and it's easy to do so it's not a bother. You just need a few simple ingredients and the patience to wait until the product is ready to drink.

How to Make Limoncello:

Here are the ingredients you need and the steps to follow to make your own limoncello:

  • Gather together your ingredients. You're going to need strong vodka (at least 100 proof), many lemons, sugar and water. For this recipe, we'll use 2 bottles of 100-proof vodka, 15 lemons, 4 cups of sugar and 5 cups of water (per the What's Cooking America recipe site).
  • Zest your lemons. You're trying to get the peel off with a peeler or a zester if you have one. People who have never zested lemons before can get directions on how to do this here.
  • Pour one of the bottles of vodka into a jar with a lid that can close tightly. Add the zest of the lemons to the vodka and close the jar. This is where you start to exercise your patience because now you just wait. Ideally, you want to wait about one month for the liqueur to develop its distinctive taste. People with less patience can check on the status of their drink after ten days but should expect it to be weaker than other limoncello they may have tried in the past.
  • After this time has passed, you are ready to add the water and sugar. First you will take these two ingredients and combine them together on the stove. You want to cook them until they are a warm syrup. Take the liqueur that has been sitting for the past month, combine it with this syrup and add the additional bottle of vodka. Then you wait again. As with before, your best bet is to wait one month but impatient folks can start drinking after ten days.
  • Chill. You'll be doing all of this waiting with your jar of liqueur stored in a dark, room temperature spot. However, you'll want to chill it in the freezer before you serve it.

How to Enjoy Limoncello:

If you've never had the opportunity to have this beverage before, you'll find that it has a nice sweet lemony taste that is easy to enjoy. You'll want to make sure that it's chilled before you have it. It's considered to be a dessert drink and is best enjoyed after dinner - an Italian pasta followed up by a chilled glass of limoncello makes for a nice night!


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  • Ralph Deeds profile image

    Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

    Sounds like great stuff. I've never had homemade limoncello, only the commercially bottled version.

  • livelonger profile image

    Jason Menayan 10 years ago from San Francisco

    We have friends who have a huge lemon tree in their backyard, and they made the most delicious, vividly-yellow limoncello every year with their harvest. Their method is similar to yours.