It's easy to make homemade Limoncello...all you need are four ingredients and time. Intensely lemony and sweet, a little goes a long way!
Vodka made better
The beauty of writing a blog about scotch (and other whisky reviews) and scones (and other yummy baked goods) is that the two subjects generally don’t intersect, so I can write about double the topics.
Occasionally I’ll write a “crossover” post where I’ve baked with alcohol (e.g. Kahlua cake or bourbon brownies) or have gotten to pair food with a tasting lineup (like in Fancy Finishes and a Chance to Pair and Springbank with Snacks).
And while I’ve made food using alcohol as a flavoring, I haven’t made and written about making a flavored liqueur…that is, until now. This week I had the pleasure of catering my older daughter’s bridal shower, and with an Italian themed menu it seemed appropriate to serve homemade Limoncello.
While the “brown” spirits don’t really lend themselves to doctoring up (why alter perfection?), vodka practically screams for flavoring. Infusing vodka simply is a matter of letting that flavoring item steep in the vodka for about 2 weeks, then drain and, voilà, you have flavored vodka.
In the B.S.S. times (i.e. Before Scotch and Scones), I’d made pineapple vodka (a version of the Stoli Doli from Capitol Grille steakhouse), grapefruit vodka (that was surprisingly wonderful), and even cucumber vodka (not my favorite, but my older daughter liked it).
I had tasted limoncello in Italian restaurants and had assumed that it was some fancy imported liqueur. While researching the aforementioned bridal shower menu, imagine my surprise when I learned that Limoncello is just lemon-infused vodka sweetened with simple syrup. “Hooray!” I thought, ”I CAN MAKE IT!”
(So...how is it done?) Glad you asked!
How to make homemade Limoncello
Turning to my favorite source for recipes (Pinterest), I quickly settled on Jo-Lynne Shane’s version of homemade Limoncello and set about making it.
As recipes go, it’s short and quite easy…the hardest part was zesting the lemons. Well, that, and waiting the 2 weeks before I could try it!
Watching the transformation
You can see over the course of 2 weeks how the color of the vodka gets stronger. It's all that essence of lemon seeping in!
It was a revelation to learn how easy it was to make this tasty lemon liqueur, and serving it at the bridal shower was so special.
We sipped ours after our meal. It was light, sweet, intensely lemony, and quite refreshing. And, the lovely yellow color was a bright compliment to a wonderful event.
My older daughter likened it to the sweet flavor of lemonheads candy (after the sour taste fades)...how's that for tasting notes!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Uses for Limoncello
- 1 bottle bottle vodka or grain alcohol (750ml)
- 6 lemons
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
For the base
- Wash the lemons and remove the zest with peeler, avoiding the white part (pith). Cut away any pith that ends up on the peels if you cut too deeply.
- Place the zest in a quart mason jar and pour over the vodka. Seal the jar tightly and give it a good shake. Let it sit for 1-2 weeks, shaking daily. The longer it sits, the more flavor you'll get from the zest...when the peels lose color, the infusion is ready.
- Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, squeezing the zest to get all the liquid out.
For the simple syrup
- Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves completely, sitrring occasionally. Cool the syrup to room temperature.
- Add the syrup to the limoncello base. A little warm syrup makes a nice cloudy limoncello.
- Using a funnel, pour the liqueur into a sealable glass bottle.
- You can store the limoncello in the freezer in warmer area (like on the door). Alternatively, keep chilled in the refrigerator. Longer aging means more intense flavors.
- Serve chilled and enjoy!