Prep 30 mins
Cook 30 mins
Traditionally served in the hot summer months, this also makes an excellent sipper during the cooler months of fall and winter when you may want to reminisce with a taste of summer. This is so easy to make--just make sure to plan ahead because it does take some time. It also makes a fantastic hostess gift or stocking stuffer. If you can find Meyer lemons, use them in this recipe; they add a wonderfully fruity flavor and aroma to the finished drink. If they are not available, standard-issue lemons from the grocery will work out just fine. Make sure your lemons are washed well to remove any stamping or wax; and when removing the zest, long strips work out best and are easiest to strain out of the finished product. EXTRA: To get the most out of your lemons, juice them after removing the zest. Strain out the seeds, freeze the juice in ice cube trays and then transfer to a freezer bag. They will keep for several months and each cube will yield about a tablespoon of juice whenever you need it. Enjoy ice-cold as is or mix with club soda or sparkling wine; also tasty drizzled over fresh fruit or sliced pound cake for a quick dessert.
- Wash and dry the lemons. Trim away the zest with a vegetable peeler using a slight back and forth motion for longer strips. Avoid removing the white pith--a little won't hurt, but if there is too much, scrape it away from the zest to avoid making your limoncello bitter. Place the lemon zest in a 1-gallon glass jar and pour the vodka over. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir and press the lemon zest to help release the oils. Cover the jar and put away for 10-14 days. It is best to put the jar in a cupboard or pantry where the exposure to light will be minimized. It also helps if you swirl the contents of the jar every day or two.
- At the end of this initial macerating period, put the sugar and water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Add the cooled syrup to the jar, replace the lid and put the jar away again for another 7-10 days.
- The limoncello should be ready at this point. It should be opaque with a nice yellow hue. If you choose, you can continue to macerate the liqueur for up to one more month to intensify the color and flavor.
- When it is done, strain the limoncello through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the peels to extract as much of the oils as possible. Stir to combine and then transfer the liqueur to clean bottles. Store in the refrigerator for several days before using.
- For longer storage, keep the bottles in the freezer up to one year--the alcohol content will pevent the limoncello from freezing. Limoncello should be enjoyed ice-cold.