• Posted by Califia Suntree on February 9th, 2010, 4:18 PM

    Most of my Christmas presents this year were bottles of limoncello, a delicious lemony liqueur that originated on the Italian island of Capri. One surmises that they have bumper crops of lemons each winter, much as we do here in Southern California. Aside from being an incredibly tasty quaff (particularly once the hot weather hits), this is a fabulously thrifty gift: I reused lemonade and vinegar bottles with resealable caps, and since the liqueur is made only with peels, you still have all that lovely juice to make into lemon curd (as my mom did for her gifts), or to freeze in small blocks to be used once citrus season wanes.

    I made my limoncello 100% organic by using Rain vodka (which is only 80 proof, but has a wallet-friendly pricepoint and notable smoothness) and organic sugar (which gave it that mellow earthy color, as opposed to the almost neon yellow that processed sugar allows). And of course, organic lemons from my dad’s bounteous tree.

    It’s a perfect warm-weather aperitivo (pre-dinner drink) or digestivo (after-dinner drink); due to its sweetness, I would emphasize the latter. But mixed with soda water, this makes a refreshing grown-up soda, very much akin to San Pellegrino Limonata–with a kick.


    (To make about 7 cups)

    2 to 3 pounds lemons

    4 cups vodka (preferably 100 proof)

    3 cups sugar

    3 cups water

    1. Peel the lemons, carefully avoiding the pith (white part). I used a sturdy vegetable peeler and then scraped the pith off with a paring knife.

    2. Put the peels in a big glass jar with the vodka and steep for a week.

    3. Make a simple syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Let cool completely.

    4. Slowly add the simple syrup to the lemon mixture, tasting as you go so it doesn’t get too sweet. Once it’s at the sweetness you like, recap the jar and let it sit a couple more days.

    5. Strain the limoncello into bottles (use a funnel!). The bottles need to have been washed in hot soapy water and completely dried. I added fresh strips of lemon peel to the bottles (yellow part only) for decoration and to amp up the lemon flavor.

    6. Chill in fridge or freezer. It tastes best after about a month.


  1. February 10th, 2010 at 5:54 pm
    Wayne Gifts

    The taste can be compared to a very strong and slightly thick lemonade flavor with an alcohol tinge to it. Wayne Gifts

  2. March 2nd, 2010 at 9:56 am
    Kristen Barrett

    I’m so glad you figured out your Christmas presents – and posted this recipe! Now I know what to do for my in-laws’ anniversary.

  3. May 5th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I was going to send you an email to share my blog with you, but then I came across this recipe and wanted to comment. So I thought I might as kill two birds with one stone and do it all right here.

    I love, love, looove limoncello but the thought of making it had never occurred to me. I think I’ll try to make soon and see how it goes.

    Love the blog, will be back soon!

  4. May 5th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    correction: might as well kill two birds…

    jeez, so much pressure when you’re writing to someone with an eye for grammar…

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