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It has become a tradition that I give edible holiday gifts to my friends, neighbors, colleagues, and teachers each year. While for several years I gave a variety of fudge and cookies, in recent years I have branched out to savory gift items as well, including homemade pesto and for the first time this year, limoncello. An Italian delicacy, this liqueur is traditionally sipped straight from the freezer, ice-cold, and savored slowly. Once the limoncello is made, it can be stored for months proving to be the perfect summer refresher but with lemon season truly peaking in the winter, it’s best made now…a gift for your friends to enjoy all year round!

Limoncello

Active Time: 1.5 Hour

Total Time: 1-4 Weeks

Makes: 5 Cups, Or 10 4oz. Gift Bottle Portions

Photo Courtesy Gina Veneziano

Ingredients

  • 8 ORGANIC LEMONS *SEE NOTE
  • 2 CUPS VODKA OR EVERCLEAR *SEE NOTE
  • 2 CUPS SUGAR
  • 3 CUPS FILTERED WATER

Equipment

  • PEELER
  • AIRTIGHT GLASS JAR
  • FINE MESH SIEVE
  • FUNNEL
  • SMALL BOTTLES
Photo Courtesy Gina Veneziano

Directions

Photo Courtesy Gina Veneziano

Notes

  • It’s important to use organic, non-treated lemons as many growers spray lemons with a wax-like coating to help them keep longer, the coatings taste will infiltrate into the limoncello and throw off the drink’s taste. Even with organic lemons, wash thoroughly.
  • Additionally affecting the taste is too much pith. The more white, the more bitter your final product will be. If worried the peeler is leaving too much pith, you can use a zester which also works but will take longer to peel and may require you to filter a few times as it produces much smaller pieces. 
  • Most recipes will call for 100 proof vodka or even Everclear, which is a neutral grain spirit – clear, colorless, and high in alcohol. I used Tito’s because although it’s not as high in alcohol content as others, I know it’s a good product with good taste on its own. While the high alcohol content may pull out more lemon flavor, it also can be bitter. With this in mind, I let my lemons sit closer to 3 weeks (vs. 1-2 weeks that you can probably get away with, with 100 proof alcohol). 
  • You could make this with any citrus fruit so could branch out and try with grapefruit, oranges, blood oranges, etc. 
  • This can be sipped on its own, added to sparkling water, sparkling wine, or used to make cocktails. 
  • I will also add pretty ribbon and labels and a recipe card to give bottles as gifts.
Photo Courtesy Gina Veneziano
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