Friday, November 25, 2011

Make Limoncello for Christmas Gifting

If you got right on it this weekend, you could easily be giving away beautiful bottles of your own homemade limoncello for Christmas.  It’s really very simple and only takes about a half-hour or so hands-on time. It's just the steeping that takes time.   The only hard part is planning far enough ahead to allow that steeping.  And, like I said, if you start this weekend . . . .

I made some a few years ago in preparing for a big summer blast we hosted.  (It was so big, we haven’t had one since!) That same year, I also made mojitos.  Must have been when they first came into vogue.  Trouble was that both those drinks are really best when it’s hot and you need a really refreshing, cool beverage.  Wouldn’t you know it was blowing rain and 45 degrees the day of our soiree?  That’s probably the real reason we haven’t had a bash in a while!  So . . . although the mojitos still went, I had lots of limoncello left.  But I didn’t complain; I like it a lot.  It’s great on its own or mixed with club soda, or spiking up some lemonade.  I haven’t tried it on ice cream, but I hear that’s good, too.

My sister made up this batch.  It’s on its last leg of mellowing and will be ready to decant into pretty bottles for holiday gifting.

After helping her finish the concocting, I figured out why mine didn’t sell so swell – and I can’t blame it on the weather.  This batch was nice and clear and I recall my first batch was a bit cloudy.  Her recipe clearly cautioned to make sure you let the simple syrup cool to room temperature before adding in the second step.  If you add the syrup while it’s still warm, you’ll get a cloudy mixture.  (Now they tell me!)

The person who submitted this recipe to -- (McMysteryShopper) -- in 2006 said the secret to this particular version was the addition of the zest of one lime.  The contributor also stressed removing the zest only; if you use a peeler and any white pith remains, get rid of it.

So order yourself some pretty bottles online this weekend and you’ll be ready to share some very festive and warming homemade gifts.  Italian or not, they'll love it.

The zest of 12 lemons
The zest of 1 lime
2 (750 ml) bottles 100% proof vodka, divided
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar.

Place the lemon and lime zest in a large jar with a screw-top lid and cover with one bottle of vodka.  Leave mixture to mellow for 2 weeks in a dark place.

After mixture sets, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved.  Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.  (This is very important.  If the sugar syrup is still warm the limoncello will become cloudy instead of clear.)

Using a coffee filter or a fine sieve, strain the vodka from the zest and mix it with the remaining bottle of vodka and the syrup.  Pour the liqueur in bottle, seal tightly and let mellow in a dark place for at least 10 days before using – or gift giving.

For drinking straight, store the limoncello in the freezer.


  1. I've wondered about doing this - I was also told to "filter" the alcohol. And to let the lemons and vodka sit for 45 days and then add the simple syrup - so many things. I like your recipe better. How do you sterilize the bottles? Is the dishwasher enough?

  2. @Claudia I'm sure my sister would just be using the dishwasher. This recipe does seem simple enough, doesn't it?

  3. I have never heard of limoncello before; but i am a lemon lover so this must taste wonderful.

  4. Rosemary, I am so thrilled you commented on my blog. That's how I find great blogs to follow and you are no exception!!! I made Limoncello in December 2009 (see blog). The recipe was a little different, certainly only made 1/2 as much, but we liked it a lot. It would be a beautiful gift to receive. Susan

  5. I love limoncello, but homemade? wow...very impressed!

  6. What a lovely gift idea, Rosemary. I'm going to remember it for next year. I've already planned on cookies for hostess gifts this year...
    I do have Limoncello in the pantry. Not homemade, though. I use it in a recipe for a fruit first course when I have guests. It's an Ina Garten recipe and everyone loves it. Perhaps next year I'll have made my own Limoncello!

  7. Love, homemade Limoncello! The recipe you used, is outrageously good, with lemon, and lime zest...not to mention the 100%proof vodka!
    Wouldn't mind receiving a bottle of this amazing goodness! (time to get started on my own)
    Rosemary, I hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving...thanks for sharing!

  8. I always think of warmth and Italy - what a wonderful Christmas present!
    mary x

  9. That is so cool! I didn't know you could even do that at know, fear of going blind and all that :) I need a present for this year, maybe I'll give this a try!

  10. Nice tips on how to avoid the cloudiness...and the addition of one lime :) I made limoncello for my book club one year and they loved it. Even though zesting all those lemons is a chore, I know I'll be making another batch in the near future. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving~

  11. This sounds perfect and I know I'd love your version. I love limoncello, not only to drink, but also to use in baking. It makes a fabulous cheescake :-). I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  12. What a lovely christmas gift! I wish I lived nearby so we could make and then share some of these spirits! Thank you for teasing me with this post. I'm thirsty now! I hope you have a lovely end to your week. I can't believe it is already Thursday! Hugs and love from Austin.

  13. where were you when I need you 6 months ago? :)
    We made our first limoncello and it is delicious, but a bit strong, and a gift of it only goes to the closest friends. ;)


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