Simply delightful. Delightfully simple. Buono. This is a recipe that is more of an experience, a homemade gift, a party guest warmer-upper on a nice summer day. This my friends, is Limoncello. The closing act to all al fresco dinners in Italia. Limoncello is a lemon infused vodka with sugar, water and with a bit of time, the perfect liquor to have on hand. It was born in the southern and coastal regions of Italy’s lemon growing regions and particularly claimed near the Amalfi Coast. Limoncello is often served cold as a digestivo to round out the end of a meal in small drinking glasses. But many folks here like it as a “shot” or even as an “American Lemonade” on a hot summer day. Just add a bit of water and ice to dilute it’s potency. Adults only of course. And speaking of lemonade, after zesting my lemons for this recipe, I used all the leftover lemons to make lemonade and also made a lemon, white wine butter sauce for our tilapia so that no fruit was wasted in the making of drink. I also am a true amateur at purchasing any alcohol other than vino, so of course I chose the Vodka based on the most important measure. The pretty label. So, yes, the label is pretty, but also this Vodka was distilled right here in Michigan, in the Traverse City Bay Area. Even better.
2 pounds of fresh lemons
1 quart grain alcohol (vodka)
6 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
Zest all those lemons, making sure not to include any of the pith (the white stuff slightly deeper than the yellow..so be careful). Put the zest in a jar with the alcohol and let it stand in a dark place for 3 days, making sure to mix/shake the jar at least twice a day.
When the lemon zest has lost it’s bright yellow color, all the oil has been extracted which means that it’s “infused” into the vodka. Strain the liquid and discard the zest.
In a saucepan over low/medium heat, heat the water and sugar until sugar dissolves and syrup is clear. Mine wasn’t clear since I used natural sugar cane instead of refined sugar. So long as it’s totally dissolved, you’re OK.
Let it cool to room temperature and mix with infused alcohol. Strain liquid through a coffee filter.
Put into a cute glass bottle with a cork or sealed top. It’s best to then let this sit for another week or so. Makes 2 quarts.
I filled three decorative bottles like this one below.
After resting for a week in anticipation of your new creation, it’s now time to share with friends and imagine you are sitting on the Amalfi Coast saying Ciao to everyone!