AH Limoncello! When you have ever visited the area of Napels and the Amalfi Coast, you must have tasted it, since most restaurants give you a little glass of this yellow liquor after your dinner. And when walking around in Sorrento, and the area of Napels, lemon trees are everywhere, lemons are used as decoration, lemons on plates and cups and aprons, lemon ice cream, … You cannot fail to notice the abundance of lemons when on holiday there! Neil had already tasted home-made limoncello on a previous trip, and knows how good it can taste. So when we visited Sorrento on a weekend break in May, we decided to bring some lemons of Sorrento home and try to make our own limoncello. We bought 5 huge lemons, that had not been treated, since you only need the peel, and insecticides are unnecessary for a good tasting limoncello. (the price was ridiculous: only 3 euro!) (maybe we should have bought more, but our luggage was already pretty heavy)
I surfed the Internet to find a decent recipe. I compared some of them, and compared those directions with my own experience making liqueur before. I decided to use pure alcohol (96%) together with vodka, for a tastier softer version. For the 5 huge lemons (equivalent of 10 normal lemons), I bought 1 l of alcohol 96% and 75 cl of vodka, and poured both together in a glass bowl. I let the lemons soak in water for ½ hour, and used a new little dishwashing sponge to clean them, and take away all the dirt from the peel.
I used a potato peeler to thinly slice of the yellow peel from the lemons, taking care not to peel any of the white parts with it. This works quite easily. I put all the peels in the alcohol, and closed the bowl. I stored the bowls away in a dark (not cold) place to make the lemon oil dissolve in the alcohol. This takes about 43 days, and on day 6, 22 and 36 you should stir the mixture and then close it off again. Time to wait….
On day 43 first check if the mixture is ready to be strained, by plying one of the lemon parts. If the part is still pliable, it is still too early and you should wait longer. If the lemon part is stiff and breaks immediately, it is time for the next step.
Filter the liquid by straining it through a coffee filter. You will have about 1,6 liter of alcohol left. Mix 800 ml water and 4,5 cups of white sugar in a pot and bring to a boil to make a syrup. Let the syrup cool down and pour it in the lemon-alcohol. Stir and close the jar and return it to a cool dry and dark place for another 40 days in which the liquid will be mellowed into limoncello. If necessary you can strain the liquid again through a coffee filter after this period, depending on the clarity of the liqueur. Then it is time to pour it in bottles. Make sure the bottles are very clean, rinse them with boiling water.
And there you have your golden drink. If you leave it in the bottles for some months more the taste will become mellower. (great for Xmas and New Year!)
5 big untreated Sorrento lemons
1l alcohol 96%
75 cl vodka
800 ml water
4,5 cups of sugar