Limoncello

Limoncello glasses

Christmas preparations

My Christmas hampers are made, and the presents finally wrapped so all that is left to do now is snuggle up on the sofa, with a box of chocolate by my side and a Christmas film on the TV. Oh, and just one more thing, a Christmas tipple to sip!

My drink of choice on an evening like this is Limoncello. I love the sticky sweetness of the lemon liqueur with its sharp, zingy tang. Limoncello is incredibly easy to drink, and the high alcohol content of the liqueur will leave you with a warm fuzzy glow. Perhaps best to make sure the wrapping is done already at this point…

Glass of homemade limoncello

The recipe

For those who don’t know, Limoncello is a liqueur made by mixing over-proof (read: very strong) spirit, with the peel of lemons and a sugar syrup. By adding a sugar syrup you considerably cut down the alcohol content of the drink making it anywhere between 10% and 30% depending on the spirit you started with. I used a 37.5% triple distilled vodka so expect mine is somewhere around the 18% mark meaning that it tastes fantastic served rather simply over ice.

Here’s how to make it…

Limoncello

Prep Time: 24 hours

Total Time: 24 hours, 8 minutes

Yield: 1.5 litres

Ingredients

  • 10 unwaxed lemons
  • 700ml of over-proof spirit (vodka works perfectly)
  • 700ml hot water
  • 3 cups (convert) granulated sugar
  • You will also need a large airtight container that is able to hold up to 2 litres of liquid.

Instructions

  1. Peel each of the lemons, trying to avoid retaining any of the bitter pitch and transfer to a large airtight container.
  2. Pour over the alcohol, seal the lid, and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 3 days and up to a week if possible.
  3. Every couple of days give the container a shake to keep the lemon peel moving about the liquid. You will notice after roughly 3 days that the liquid turns from clear to fluorescent yellow!
  4. A day before you wish to bottle the Limoncello, fill a jug with 700ml of hot (but not boiling) water and add the sugar.
  5. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Remove the lemon peel from the alcohol and pour the sugar syrup into the airtight container.
  7. Mix the syrup and the now yellow alcohol.
  8. Replace the lid and leave the liquid in a cool dark place overnight so that the flavours completely infuse.
  9. It will now be ready to bottle! Ensure you have enough bottles for at least 1.5 litres of liquid.
  10. These should be sterilised either with sterilisation solution, or by washing with warm soapy water and leaving to dry in a warm oven.
  11. Once bottled the Limoncello is best kept in the fridge, or even better the freezer!
  12. If you have used an over-proof spirit the high alcohol level should keep the Limoncello from freezing.
  13. Best served over ice or in cocktails.

Notes

Due to a glitch in the recipe plugin, it will not let me set prep time as higher than 24 hours. However, Limoncello takes about a week to make.

Don't be put off with how long it take to make Limoncello. For the most part it's hidden away in a cupboard and you'll be wandering around the shops doing your Christmas shopping while it does all the hard work!

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This recipe easily fills two 700ml bottles so make sure you have two sterilised receptacles to hand. I particularly love old quirky, textured bottles and it looks particularly festive when poured into a frosted bottle. The white haze reminds me of a light coating of snow or frost.

If you aren’t planning on keeping this all for yourselves, though I highly recommend it…Kilner (and I’m sure many other brands) sell 250ml and 500ml bottles so you could add a small bottle to a Christmas hamper like I’ve done. They also make great gifts for the host and hostess at New Years Eve!

Bottle of home made limoncello

Limoncello cocktails

For those of you who aren’t a fan of drinking your spirits neat why not use your homemade Limoncello in one of these Limoncello Cocktails?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas!

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