Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Limoncello - Concentrated Lemoney Goodness

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese

As spring is now upon us, we have an abundance of lemons on our tree. So what to do with all those lemons?  For a bloke who likes a drink or two, my wife had a fantastic idea.  Here is what unfolded.

About 3 weeks ago, Kim (my lovely wife) was ill and tired of laying in bed, so I trundled her off to the lounge room, threw on the blankets, and she started watching the movie Under The Tuscan Sun.

Half way through the movie, the main character, who was eying up some hot Italian lad, was told about this wonderful drink called Limoncello which she proceeded to drink.  Kim then asked if I could make some.  The reply was of course I can!

With lots of lemons on the tree, and a bottle of vodka in the cupboard, I set myself the task of making this luscious lemon liqueur.  After a bit of research on the net, the consensus was a recipe that goes kind of like this.  I borrowed the directions from an on-line cooking site, however I changed the amounts because I didn't think it was sweet  or strong enough.  So here is how I made it.

Limoncello (Gav style)


9 large smooth thick skinned lemons
700ml bottle of Vodka or Grappa
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
2 cups of water
juice of one lemon


Pick the lemons, then grate the rind of all lemons.  Be careful not to get any pith as I am told it will make the liqueur bitter.

Once you have all the rind place in a big glass container that you can seal or otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. 

Then pour in the alcohol and seal the jar.

Let it rest while you perform the next step.

I love the way it changed colour over the course of a couple of hours.  Note the rind sitting on the bottom.  Some recipes state that you must leave it at this step for 30-40 days to infuse the flavour, however, I stumbled across a few Italian recipes that I translated, and they added the sugar syrup the same day.

So add the sugar and water and stir whilst heating on a medium heat.  Bring to the boil.

Boil without stirring for 3 minutes.  You will find the syrup will thicken a little.  Take it off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let it cool to room temperature.  Do not add the syrup to the rind mixture whilst hot.  You will burn off the alcohol, which kind of defeats the purpose of this drink.

My syrup cooled after two hours, so I gently poured it into the rind/vodka mixture.

I gave it a gentle shake to mix, and left it at that.  Sealed the lid tightly and tipped it upside down to check for leaks.

I popped it into a dark corner in the kitchen where I will remember to mix it by shaking once a week over the course of a month.  Apparently, it is then ready to drink, however I did see recipes that recommended two months.

As for the rest of the left over lemons, I squeezed them and made a drink for Kim.  We are look forward to drinking the Limoncello on a nice late spring day!  I still have a few lemons left on the tree, so Kim has convinced me to go and buy another bottle of vodka to make another batch.  Might try Grappa this time, to make it a little more authentic.  If it is as good as my Cumquat Brandy, then it should be a ripper!

Has anyone else made this liqueur before?  How did it turn out?  Have you tried to make other fruit wines or liqueurs?  I would love to know.