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Limoncello ~ Lemon Liqueur

Several glasses partially filled with limoncello on a silver platter, with a bottle of limoncello in the background.
Rosetta Costantino and Jennie Schacht

Prep 30 mins
Cook 21 d 23 hrs 30 mins
Total 22 d
Drinks
Italian

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds lemons (about 8) preferably organic
  • 1 (26-ounce) bottle 151-proof neutral grain spirits such as Everclear or vodka
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups cold water

Directions 

  • Remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, taking only the yellow part and carefully avoiding even the slightest bit of underlying white pith, which would turn the limoncello bitter. Reserve the zested lemons for another use.
  • Pour the alcohol into a clean quart (1-liter) jar with a tight-fitting lid, such as a European-style canning jar with a rubber gasket and clamp lid. Add the lemon zest, close the jar, and let it steep in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar, for 1 week.
  • After the alcohol has steeped for 1 week, stir the sugar and water together in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. The mixture should be clear. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. (Do not be tempted to rush into the next step; if the sugar syrup is not completely cool, your limoncello will be cloudy.)
  • Remove the lemon zest from the alcohol and discard. Pour the infused alcohol into the sugar syrup and stir to combine. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then decant the limoncello into clean bottles and seal with a cork or lid of some sort.
  • Let the limoncello mature for 15 days in a cool, dark place, then refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Notes

Limoncello ~ Lemon Liqueur Variation

Rosolio Di Limone
For a sweeter, less puckier (oh, you know what we mean) version of limoncello called rosolio di limone, follow the instructions above, but instead use 6 cups water and 4 cups (800 g) sugar in place of the stated 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar. Let the liqueur sit for the same amount of time.