Limecello

Somebody I know well loves lime-flavoured things and fancy drinks. This calls for limecello.

I’ve made limoncello before, so much, in fact, that I still have plenty. We’ve even done taste tests: Normal lemons vs. Meyers. Beside Meyer Limoncello, the stuff made from normal lemons tastes like lemon cleaner! If you can still find Meyer lemons, take this recipe and go make yourself Meyer Limoncello – it tastes lemony, but smooth, like a hint of vanilla made it into the mix somewhere.

A photo of fifteen limes, a plate, and a microplane grater.
Fifteen limes washed & ready for zesting.

The process is relatively simple, but involves a lot of waiting – months of it. Get started now if you want a bottle in your freezer by summertime. You zest your citrus, then let the zest infuse its flavour into alcohol for several weeks or months. Eventually, you strain the alcohol and “marry” it with a simple syrup, wait another week or so, and enjoy!

A photo of a plate with the zest of fifteen limes on it, and a bowl of limes with no zest left.
The “after” photo.

When I first made Limoncello I looked at a lot of recipes and ended up following, more or less, the ratios in this one, but adapted it to use 96% (by volume) “Alcool” available in liquor stores here for the soaking stage, then later when sugar & water are added the mixture gets thinned to about 40% alcohol by volume.

Fun fact: After soaking the zest in alcohol for four months it becomes brittle.

A close-up photo of lime zest in a jar of alcohol. The alcohol has become green.
The alcohol picks up the colour of the lime zest really fast.

Limoncello Recipe:

Step One: Infuse the Alcohol

Ingredients:
  • 12 Lemons (or 15 limes for Lime-cello)
  • 500 ml of 96% Alcohol, (if you can’t find 96%, 1200 ml of Vodka at 40% has the same amount of alcohol).
Method:
  1. Wash and zest the citrus.
  2. Combine both ingredients in a glass container
  3. Swirl daily, (if you remember), for at least 2 weeks, or up to 4 months.

Step 2: Marry the Infusion with Simple Syrup

Ingredients:
  • 700 ml Water
  • 500 ml to 700 ml of Sugar, (about 2 to 3 cups)
Method:
  1. Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar is completely dissolved to make a simple syrup.
  2. While the syrup is cooling, filter your infusion from Step One. A coffee filter or some kind of cloth will work well.
  3. Once the infusion is filtered and the simple sugar has cooled to room temperature, mix the two together. This step is amazing, as the two clear fluids combine they become creamy and opaque.
  4. Bottle the limoncello, (there’s enough alcohol here that no processing is required – in fact, any type of heat processing would evaporate a lot of the alcohol).
  5. Allow the syrup and infusion to “marry” for at least a week at room temperature.
  6. Put a bottle in your freezer, and enjoy cold.

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