There are lots of Limoncello recipes online, with traditional Italian Limoncello typically aged for 40 days on the lemon skins in 90% alcohol and then 40 days with the sugar syrup added. Oh, and it needs to be from a specific part of Italy! I have adapted my recipe for the purpose at hand: Homemade Limoncello in one week or less!
Typical Limoncello is from about 26% to 35% alcohol content by volume. This recipe is about 26.5% alcohol. Don’t fret the details too much, as there is significant variability in all limoncello’s. Have fun with this recipe!
This recipe makes about 1.125 liters (about 4.75 cups, or 3 - 375 ml bottles) double or triple this batch for more!
10 lemons (yellow part of the skin ONLY)
750 ML Neutral Vodka (40% alcohol)
1.0 cups of water
1.0 cups of sugar
You are after the yellow part of the outer skin ONLY. I highly recommend using a microplaner. If you don’t have one buy a small one, you will not regret having one in your kitchen. Wash the skin of the lemon to remove any pesticides from non-organic lemons, and then any wax or glue from supermarket stickers. Using your microplaner, zest ONLY the yellow part of the skin of the lemons. You can use more lemons if you want for a stronger flavor, but do not use any of the white part of the skin. Smooth skinned organic lemons are the easiest to work with, and will not have pesticide residue on them.
Alcohol - Vodka:
You want neutral vodka! Grey Goose is a popular Vodka, but it has a specific flavor that is intentionally there, and while great for Grey Goose, not great for Limoncello. I would suggest mid-range cost vodka, and it would improve the quality of the vodak to filter it though a Still Spirits carbon filter. Bad tasting vodka is typically poorly filtered or not filtered at all, and you can improve the flavor of most any inexpensive vodka by filtering it. Traditional Limoncello is made with 90% (approximate) alcohol, and then diluted with water. 90% alcohol (Everclear) is not available in Washington State, so my recipe uses 40% alcohol
Using your microplaner, zest the outer skin (yellow part only) of your lemons. Discard any white parts (pith) of the lemon you zest. Fill a 1 liter (2 quart) container with your lemon zest and vodka, and cover the container tightly with plastic wrap or a lid. Steep for 7 days, but don’t be afraid to taste along the way. After 7 days, filter your alcohol/lemon zest mixture to remove the lemon zest. Paper coffee filters work pretty well, but a tight nylon bag or fabric will work also. Don’t fret if the Limoncello is a little cloudy, that is OK.
Boil your water and sugar mixture to dissolve the sugar until the mixture is clear. Cool to room temperature and then begin to add to your Limoncello. The entire mixture is suggested for this batch, but do not be afraid to put a little more or less to get your desired sweetness. Then fill your bottles and refrigerate.
Aging your Limoncello is a great thing to allow it to mellow a bit. It would be great if you could age it for a few months if you have the time. But if a week is all you have, go for it!