Ah, limoncello. There’s nothing like sipping a glass on a hot summer night to make you feel like you’re basking away in Italy. The good news is you don’t have to actually go to Italy to enjoy it. (Though we wouldn’t say no to that trip!)
Follow this recipe to make your own batch, but make sure you’ve planned in advance — limoncello needs to steep for a total of at least 40 days. Once it’s nice and zesty though, it can last for years. That is, if you don’t drink it too fast!
Yield: Seven 1-liter bottles
1. Peel the Lemons
Scrub the lemons in warm water and pat dry. Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler, capturing the yellow peel only. Be careful not to include the white pith, which would give the limoncello a bitter flavor.
2. Let ‘Em Steep (For a Looooong Time)
Place the lemon peels in a gallon glass jar. Pour in 1 bottle of the alcohol, and push down the lemon peels with a wooden spoon to completely submerge them in the liquid. Tightly secure the lid and set the jar in a cool, dark place to steep for 20 to 40 days.
3. Make Sugar Syrup
Once your first steeping period is over, it’s time to add the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine sugar and 7½ cups water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 7 to 10 minutes, then remove the syrup from the heat and let it cool.
4. Complete the Mix and Steep
When the syrup is completely cool, add it to the jar of lemon peels and alcohol. Pour in the second bottle of alcohol abd stir. Tightly secure the lid and return the jar to a cool, dark place to steep for an additional 20 to 40 days. Over time, the liquid will absorb the lemon and turn bright yellow.
5. Strain and Add Water
Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter into a large bowl. Add 2 cups water to the limoncello. This will cause the liquid to turn cloudy and take on a pale yellow color. Let it rest for a moment so that any remaining sediment will fall to the bottom.
6. Bottle It Up
Using a funnel, ladle the limoncello into your desired bottles, leaving a ½” space at the top. Wipe the rims clean, secure the lids and label. Store the limoncello in a cool, dark place, or in the freezer so it’s always ready to serve icy cold.