Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Make Limoncello

I have featured my dad so many times on my blog I should start paying him. He graciously shared how to make traditional Italian pepper biscuits and pizzelles. He even not-so-graciously demonstrated how to crack the shell of a mammoth 14-pound lobster (the guy's got good biceps). Today he's back to show you how to make limoncello, the uniquely refreshing lemon Italian liqueur.

Limoncello is not difficult to make, but you have to plan ahead; the lemon and orange rinds need to soak for 48 hours. Give yourself 3 days -- 2 for soaking and 1 for the processing and freezing. The actual hands-on time is short, so don't be scared. Plus once you taste that tantalizing sweet-tart lemon, you won't care how long it takes to make. It's like Del's lemonade for adults (that's for my RI readers).

Here's how to make limoncello:

limoncello ingredients

  • Gather all of your ingredients: pure alcohol, milk, whiskey, vanilla, sugar, lemons, and oranges.
lemon rinds soaking

  • Soak lemon and orange peels in a bowl filled with pure alcohol, and cover with a plate for 48 hours.
  • Strain alcohol, and discard peels.
bubbling milk
  • In a very large pan, mix milk, sugar, whiskey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat. The liquid should bubble as shown above. Keep stirring, and don't take your eyes off of it. If left unattended, it will overflow. Trust me. Then it will take you hours to remove the impossibly sticky lemon mixture off of your stove top. You'll curse me forever, and I couldn't live with the guilt.
limoncello in pot

  • Once cooled, you will see a thin film form on the top of the liquid.
straining the limoncello

  • Pour the limoncello through a sieve. Pour into bottles and freeze.
limoncello glass

  • Sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy a glass of refreshing chilled, creamy, limoncello. You deserve it.

Creamy Limoncello

Print recipe only here.

Update: July 9, 2010: Lately my dad has been soaking the lemon and orange rinds for 1 week, which imparts a more pronounced lemon flavor. The 48 hour soak is still delicious, but it's another option. 

1 liter (33.8 oz) pure alcohol – 1 liter = 4.25 cups
8 lemon peels
2 orange peels
2 liters whole milk (67.6 oz) or 8 ¾ cups
5 lbs sugar – 10 cups
1 shot glass whiskey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl place lemon and orange peels. Pour pure alcohol over the peels. Soak for 48 hours on the counter top. Note: It's helpful to place a plate on top of the peels so they don't float to the top.

2. Strain lemon and orange alcohol; discard peels. Pour alcohol in a heavy bottomed large saucepan and add milk, sugar, whiskey, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then reduce until just bubbling, for 5 minutes. Stir continuously, and keep a close eye on it so it does not boil over. Remove from heat and let cool completely. A thin film will form on the top of the limoncello. Using a large spoon, skim it and discard. Then pour limoncello through a fine mesh sieve.

3. Pour into bottles and freeze. Note: We use plastic containers, which are safer to handle than glass. Keep in freezer at all times. Shake before using.

You might also like:

Mini Custards with Limoncello-Spiked Raspberry Sauce