December 10, 2013

Gifts from My Kitchen- Limoncello

Winter is time to get your Limoncello going for the year!  Using the whole grain alcohol, it only takes 3 days, not 40 to make. So if you start today, it will be ready for the holidays.

I like to peel my organic lemons with a potato peeler, over the jar I am going to make the limoncello in, it catches any of the essential oils that spray out while peeling too.

This is the classic recipe everyone uses here in Italy, some keep more or less days soaking. But i find that the zest starts to turn white and get brittle after three days.

When using this whole grain alcohol which is 95% - 190 proof- you need to do your math to make it a liquore. I don't like mine to be too strong, so make it a 1/3 alcohol blend, using 2/3 simple syrup. If you want it lighter, 25%, then the alcohol should be 1/4 the amount in the recipe.

Most simple syrups are equal parts water and sugar, I tend to cut down on some of the sugar.

In California, I can buy whole grain at beverages and more "BevMo", but pay attention, in the USA the whole grain is only 75% alcohol, which is 150 proof. You don't need to add as much simple syrup to make it a liquore. Equal parts of alcohol to simple syrup is perfect.

I never use vodka, but if  you do, make sure it is 100 proof. It extracts the flavor better, but you need to leave it longer infusing.

Now I understand why I learned fractions in school!

Limoncello is strong and traditionally the bottle you serve from is kept in the freezer. It has so much alcohol, it won't really freee, but thickens up.

I suggest keeping a SMALL bottle in the freezer otherwise EVERYONE will finish the bottle and it is dangerous!

Based on this technique, I have made other liquores, using clementine rinds, sage, basil and other aromatics. These are called digestivo's to help you digest your dinner.

Not Sagecello!

A classic name would be a Rosolio, infused sweetened after dinner drinks.



  1. I love to "make my own", but I am always afraid I will make someone ill, or worse. We have a BevMo just down the street.

  2. Making homemade liquors is fun and easy--- there are so many great recipes out there. I even learnded to make my own bitters this year!

  3. Yes, please. I really think you ought to be my neighbor - most especially because I was always terrible with fractions. Your method sounds wonderful - and so simple! Cheers!

  4. My neighbor makes what he calls a Verveinecello using lemon verbena leaves - very good as a digestif.