My Limoncello Journey

Limoncello from ZagLeft

Back in June 2010 I had the pleasure of visiting the Mantova region of northern Italy during one of my business trips.  During the visit we joined our hosts for one of the most wonderful meals I have ever had.  We started in the wine room in the basement of the restaurant where we enjoyed fresh salami, a parmesan cheese wheel and sparkling wine as our antipasta.  After that we sat outside at a large table and enjoyed a 4 hour meal.  At the end of the meal we were brought bottles of homemade Limoncello as well as other variations including mint, green walnuts and green apple.

Limoncello Recipe from Zagleft

This was the first time I had tried Limoncello and I was hooked.  It probably was the wonderful surroundings of the Italian restaurant in a small village and the great food, but I definitely wanted bring my experience home.  One of our business associates was from the area and provided me with his grandmother’s recipe for Limoncello.

Recipes for Limoncello can be found all over the internet but the one that I have settled on based on the recipe I was given is:

Peel 8 medium lemons (organic preferred if you can find them) – peel thinly so the peels only have yellow and no white pith (pith makes it bitter)

Lemoncello_Lemon_Peels_from_Zagleft
Soak lemon peels in 750 milliliters of 190 proof Everclear pure grain alcohol for 2 months in a cool dark location (i.e. closet).

Lemoncello_mixing_everclear_peels_from_Zagleft
After two months, prepare a simple syrup by heating 6-1/4 cups of distilled water until vapor starts coming off the water and then slowly mixing in 2-1/2 cups of pure cane sugar.  Continue to stir until the resulting mixture is clear.

Lemoncello_simple_syrup_from_Zagleft

Strain the lemon peels from the alcohol and combine with the simple syrup in a large container.  If you want the limoncello to be bright yellow, mix the simple syrup with the lemon/alcohol mix while the simple syrup is still warm.  If you wait for the simple syrup mix to reach room temperature and then mix, the resulting limoncello will be a deeper yellow color that is somewhat translucent.  We prefer the bright yellow since it looks like liquid sunshine.

Let the limoncello sit for a week to a month to settle and smooth out.

Strain the Limoncello several times through coffee filters or cheese cloth to remove small particles.

Lemoncello_filtering_from_Zagleft

 

Now that you are done, pour the Limoncello into smaller bottles and put in freezer.  When chilled, serve in chilled shot glasses.  A little goes a long way since this version of the Limoncello is 60 proof (30 percent alcohol)!

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