Adventures In Limoncello

Last year, Adventures In Tandem did our first tour to Tuscany, Italy.  It was a great trip!

We drank a lot of wine.  We also drank a lot of limoncello.  If you are not familiar with limoncello, it’s basically a sweet lemon flavored liquor that is about 40 proof (20% alcohol).  It is served cold usually as an after dinner drink. It’s REALLY good!  A lot of the places we went to served home made versions of it, so I looked up how to make it when we got home.  Turns out it’s really easy to make.

After reading many different recipes and trying a few, this is what I found to be easiest and taste best:

  1. Get a 750ml bottle of 80 proof vodka.  Don’t bother with the really good stuff as you won’t be able to taste the difference once you’re done.
  2. Get about 7 or 8 lemons.  Organic would be best, but I have been buying the ones at Costco and they’re fine.  If you are not buying organic, you will need to scrub the lemons with hot water and a brush to get the wax that they put on the lemons off.
  3. Get a quart (or larger) container that you can seal and pour the vodka into it.
  4. Peal the lemons with an ordinary peeler.  You only want the yellow part of the rind.  Try to get as little of the white part of the rind as possible.
  5. Place all of the yellow rinds into the bottle with the vodka.  Seal it and put it somewhere (not in the fridge) for at least 7 days.
  6. After the 7 days, make some simple syrup:
    1. Combine 2.5 cups water and 2 cups sugar in a pot.
    2. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.  This should take a few minutes after it boils.
    3. Let the syrup cool.  I usually put it in the fridge to speed things up.
  7. Pour the lemony vodka through a strainer into another container and mix it with the simple syrup.  That’s it.  You now have limoncello!
  8. Put your homemade limoncello in the fridge to cool and serve over ice.
  9. I try to save a few clear glass wine bottles to store and serve the limoncello in.  Soak off the label and it looks great.  We even made our own labels:

I’ve read that you can really use any spirits and any citrus to make variations of this. I’ve tried vodka with grapefruit which was OK, but not great, and also Canadian Club whiskey (because I’ve had a bottle sitting in my cabinet for many years) with orange.  That was actually pretty good.

You can find many variations of this recipe on the web.  I’ve only made 4 batches so far (plus the grapefruit and orange variations), each with a slightly different recipe.  We did blind taste tests with each and the above was best.  However, I am sure it’s not the absolute best.  If you actually make some, let us know what you think.

Now at this point, you may be thinking that these Biancos are real lushes.  We’re really not.  You would be surprised how fast this stuff goes when you have a few friends over!

One last thing.  You may be asking yourself, what do I do with all of the leftover lemons? Well, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!  I squeeze all of the juice into a jar and store it in the fridge.  Then I use it to make lemonade.  I like my lemonade relatively week – I put 6 teaspoons of sugar and 6 teaspoons of the lemon juice into a half gallon of water.  I happen to really like lemonade, but if you are someone who has ever gotten a kidney stone, you should also know that lemonade may help prevent them (see this).

Anyway, we’d love to hear any comments back.