Monday, February 7, 2011

When the world gives you lemons, make....Limoncello!

OK so technically this isn't limoncello because I got my lemons at my local Waitrose and not from the Amalfi coast! That slight technicality aside I think what I've ended up with is a pretty good approximation. It does take a lot of perseverance to make a good batch (10-12 weeks).

I made this as a gift for my boyfriend Pino, who's Italian (If the name didn't give it away). I was struggling to think of good gift ideas and as he is a bit of a foodie too I knew he'd appreciate a bottle of tangy lemony goodness.

What you'll need:
  • 12 unwaxed organic Lemons (mine were small) 
  • 1 lime (zest only)
  • 750mls of grain alcohol (80-90%) 
  • 200g of caster sugar 
  • A large bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid
  • A lot of patience

The first thing you'll need to do is zest your lemons and lime. My advice for this part would to be invest in a good zester or microplane. I had neither! The goal is to remove all the zest but none of the white pith underneath. I ended up using a vegetable peeler and then scrapping the white pith off of each slice with a sharp knife. Not fun and also my hands smelled of lemons for about 3 days. 

10 weeks in and it looked ready to me
Once you've got all your zest off put it into your jar and cover the peel with your grain alcohol. I've read online that some people use high quality vodka for this part as grain alcohol isn't readily available in a lot of places. I found my grain alcohol in a small asian shop near Tooting broadway. 

The next part is where your patience comes in. Put a lid on the jar and place in a cool dark place for the next 8-12weeks. I gave my jar a shake everyday for the first 2 weeks, then once a week for the next 8 weeks. This just helps remove the essential oils form the lemons. You'll notice the alcohol turn a bright yellow colour. 

Next, I got myself about 150mls of fresh lemon juice (about 8 large lemons), 100ms of water and mixed it with 200g of caster sugar. Once the sugar was dissolved and the syrup boiling I added it to the lemon and alcohol. 

What really amazed me was the change in colour. It turned from something that resembled my toilet bowl after a heavy nights drinking, into a bright opaque, almost sunshine yellow colour. I'm told that Limoncello is suposed to be clear and the fact that mine was cloudy is a flaw. However I'm really impressed with my flaw! 

Once it had cooled down, I poured it into some really nice glass bottles that I bought in a shop in camden market. I used a white paint pen and a friend with better handwriting than me to write on the bottles. My only problem is that I'm not 100% sure of what the strength is of this. However being Irish this isn't a real problem for me. 


  1. You forgot one essential thing on your "must have" list and that is friends very willing to imbibe your tasty delights! SIGN ME UP!!!

  2. Next time you;re here Jan there'll be a glass waiting for you. It's delicious ontop of some vanilla ice cream.

  3. Or mixed into some champagne. Lemony goodness.

  4. I can confirm that Peter's Limoncello (both with or without champagne) is GORGEOUS.

  5. I've been looking everywhere for grain alcohol and I can't find any here in the UK. I don't want to use vodka as I want to do it the authentic way lol. What was the name of the off license you went to, if you can remember :)