Limoncello

My family has a host of lemon and lime trees in the yard, which invariably means at numerous points in the year we throw our hands in the air and ask ourselves (again) ‘what to do with the lemons this time?’. We have made lemon tart, lemon curd, lemon cakes galore (see here, here and here) and homemade lemonade! All these you can make with store bought lemons too, but Limoncello is the one you need unwaxed (in Australia, this pretty much means homegrown) lemons for. Once you have removed all the rind from the lemons, I definitely recommend making one of the many other lemony things, or freezing the juice for later.

Makes: Around 2.5 litres
Preparation Time: minimum 28 days (although longer is always better if you can wait!)


Ingredients

+ 1.8 kg unwaxed lemons
+ 750 ml 90 proof alcohol or vodka * 
+ 1 kg white sugar
+ 1 1/4 litres water

* You want the highest proof alcohol or vodka you can find, as it is diluted throughout the process. I have used 80 proof every time and it still tastes fine to my less discerning palate. 

Equipment

+ Peeler
+ A fine sieve (or a sieve with muslin cloth)
+ Large preserving jars (with a total capacity of 2.5 litres)
+ Sterilised bottles with screw lids

Method

STEP ONE: Remove the rind in strips from your lemons using a vegetable peeler, taking care the avoid any of the white pith. If there is white pith, remove this with a small knife from inside the rind. Place lemon rind and alcohol into a large preserving jar (or divide between two as I do) with a tight fitting lid and leave to mature in a cool dark place for at least 14 days. During this time, the alcohol will take on a yellow colour.

STEP TWO: Dissolve sugar in water and bring to the boil. Add sugar water to the alcohol mixture, replace lid and set aside for a further 14 days (or more, if you can wait). 

STEP THREE: Strain liquer through a sieve into clean sterilised bottles and cap with screw lids. 

Serve chilled after dinner as a digestif. Best after one week in the fridge. 

Original recipe, prior to variations, sourced from the Gourmet Pilgrim, Italy.

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