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USA Culture: Bringing a Taste of Italy to California – Limoncello Recipe

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In this post we describe how we made limoncello from our orchard and share a recipe from the Amalfi Coast, Italy.


What is limoncello?

Limoncello is a Southern Italian liquor derived from four ingredients: lemon skin, water, alcohol, and sugar.

Our inspiration for creating our own limoncello comes from our time in Sorrento, a town situated in the Amalfi Coast, Italy. We participated in a cooking class on a private villa where the fragrant lemons are still etched in our minds.

The recipe that follows is from the Amalfi Coast, Italy.


Limoncello recipe walkthrough in pictures

Select your lemons.

Wash and peel the lemons.

There are two components to the lemon’s peel: the outer skin layer, the flavedo, and white pith, the albedo.

Only peel down to the flavedo. This is where all of the flavors are stored, as the natural citrus oils that are located just under the surface.

Place all of the flavedo in a mason jar. Pour in the alcohol and stir.

Seal the jar and store in a dark, cool place for a period between 3-30 days. This time allows the flavedo to infuse with the alcohol, giving the limoncello its yellow color and flavor.

If you skip the infusion step, the limoncello will taste like separate parts of alcohol and lemon.

3-30 days later….

[Note that in this recipe we soaked the flavedo and alcohol for three days. We are going to repeat the recipe with different lengths of soak time and plan to share our findings around color and flavor.]

Prepare the sugar water mixture.

Use a strainer to pour the yellow flavedo alcohol mixture from the mason jar into the water sugar mixture in the pot.

Strain the limoncello into a bottle used to serve. Refrigerate so contents can pull together.

Serve chilled and enjoy.


Preparation, cook time & yield

This recipe requires two preparation sessions. The first session is to prepare the alcohol mixture, and the second is to bring all of the ingredients together.

The two preparation sessions are separated by a 3-30 day period in which the flavedo and alcohol mixture infuse. Each cooking session will last approximately 15 minutes.

Yield: 3 liters

Limoncello typically retains its flavor for two years. Though there is not a definitive expiration date, experts recommend consuming it within two years of creating or opening a bottle to get the optimal scent and flavor.

Ingredients

Limoncello only requires four ingredients: the lemon’s colored rind (flavedo), water, alcohol, and sugar. The quality of lemons used in this recipe ultimately determines the flavor.

  • 9 lemons
  • 1 liter of 80-100 proof grain alcohol
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • 700 grams of white sugar

Utensils

  1. Mason Jar
  2. Peeler
  3. Large pitcher
  4. Utensil to stir
  5. Smaller glass bottles for individual servings (we like this brand)

Instructions

Session One

Prepare the flavedo-alcohol mixture

  • Wash and peel the lemons. There are two components to a citrus fruit’s peel: the outer skin layer, the flavedo, and the white pith, the albedo. For this recipe, only use the flavedo. Place all of the flavedo in a mason jar.
  • Pour in the alcohol and stir.
  • Seal the jar and store in a dark, cool place for 3-30 days. This time allows the flavedo time to soak in the alcohol, giving the contents a gorgeous yellow color with deeply infused flavors. If you skip this step, the limoncello will not appear yellow, and will taste like separate parts of alcohol and lemon.

Session two: 3-30 days later

Prepare the sugar-water mixture

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add in white sugar.
  3. Stir the mixture.
  4. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool.

Add in the flavedo-alcohol mixture

  1. Once cooled, use a strainer to pour the yellow flavedo alcohol mixture from the mason jar into the water sugar mixture in the pot. Swirl a small amount of water around the mason jar to extract all the flavors. Pour the liquid into the limoncello. Ensure that no flavedo is in the limoncello.
  2. Mix all of the liquids together.
  3. Strain the limoncello into a bottle used to serve. We like this brand. Refrigerate so contents can pull together.
  4. Serve chilled.

Growing the Meyer Lemons we used in our limoncello recipe from seed

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