How to Make Italian Limoncello
Felicia Arhontissas tells you how to create southern Italy’s most popular, zesty beverage - limoncello.
Slowly savouring a short glass of limoncello, a sweet liqueur made from the oil essence of lemon skins, is one of the most quintessentially Italian things you can do when one is in Europe. Across the country limoncello is served as a ‘digestivo’, a drink to enjoy after a big meal. It’s no secret that Italians love to linger over a long, languorous dinner with friends and family. And after the main meal, when we’re full to bursting and that sleepy, food-fuelled stupor sets in, that’s when our hero, limoncello, comes into play.
No one knows for sure how this drop of sunshine in a shot glass came to be. Its origins are untraceable, however there are many theories. Some believe monks on the Amalfi Coast during the Middle Ages would drink limoncello between prayers. Others say it was first drunk by sailors to ward off scurvy thanks to its high dose of vitamin C. Whatever the case, nowadays it is one of the most popular beverages in Italy. Want to explore Italy for yourself? Join Travelglo on the 9 Day Italian Explorer trip.
It is most commonly found throughout southern Italy, particularly along the sun-kissed Amalfi Coast, where lemons have thick skins and grow almost as large as grapefruits. No matter where you are in the world, after taking one sip of limoncello, you’ll be instantly transported to southern Italy, where golden sunshine and the glittering Mediterranean Sea are almost as intoxicating. Almost.
Whether you’re intrigued to try this famous drink for the first time at home, or are looking to reminisce on your time in southern Italy, learn to make authentic limoncello following these easy steps.
Equipment You’ll Need:
- Two large glass containers with a lid or plastic wrap
- Clean glass bottles
- Vegetable peeler
- 750ml vodka
- 10-15 lemons (preferably organic)
- 1.5 cups of white sugar
- 2.5 cups of water
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the lemons (avoiding the white pith underneath). Place the lemon peel in a large glass jar. Try to use organic lemons, so that you can avoid that waxy residue found on non-organic lemons.
2. Pour the vodka over the lemon peel. Cover with plastic wrap or an airtight lid.
3. Leave container in a cool place to infuse for at least four weeks. The longer you leave the lemons to infuse in the vodka, the stronger the lemon flavour.
4. After infusing, line a sieve with a cheesecloth and place over a second glass jar. Strain the vodka, catching the peels in the sieve. Do this twice, then set aside.
5. Make the sugar syrup by bringing a medium pot of water to a simmer and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Set aside to cool.
6. Combine the alcohol and sugar syrup by pouring the cooled sugar syrup into the jar of alcohol and stirring. Pour into glass bottles.
7. Limoncello is best served chilled in a shot glass, so it’s a good idea to store your bottle in the fridge. Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your efforts!