When your father-in-law shouts down from the lemon trees in his garden “sai come si fa il limoncello?” the only answer is “ma certo!” Organic lemons were picked, paper bags were stuffed to the point of overflow and our car was filled with the intoxicating aroma of freshly grated zest for the ride from Naples to our home in Rome. Thus began my quest to make limoncello with the help of Francesco, the expert fruit peeler, slicer and dicer who also happens to be a good judge of the citrusy beverageIMG_2416Limoncello falls in the camp of digestivi. Intended to help with digestion, limoncello is often offered in restaurants at the end of a meal. My memory was tainted with unsavory recollections of a commercial super sweet and syrupy liqueur until tasting home made versions like this one. I hope that after reading this simple recipe you’ll venture to make your own limoncello soon.

Ingredients

  • 10 organic lemons
  • 1 liter of 90 – 95% good quality clear alcohol or vodka
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups water

lemonsWash the lemons well and pat dry. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons taking care to trim away the white pith. Place the lemon peels in a container. Pour the alcohol over the peels and seal the container. Steep the lemon peels in the alcohol for two weeks at room temperature.

limoncello2Mix the sugar and water in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the sugar syrup completely. Pour over the lemon peel-alcohol mixture. Mix well and let rest for approximately one week.

limoncello3Strain the limoncello through a strainer and discard the peels. Pour the limoncello into bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold.

limoncello4Share with friends and family after lunch or dinner. We like to serve it on its own or with sweet almond biscotti.