Limoncello

By Michael Paul

Limoncello
This classic Italian liqueur produced in southern Italy originates from the Amalfi coast, but it is now made anywhere lemons are in abundance. In northern Italy, the liqueur is often referred to as limoncino instead.

 Makes 2 litres

Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello Santa Teresa lemons – also known as Sorrento or Sfusato lemons. This recipe is from a Sicilian friend, and it was once a closely guarded family secret. It is made each year when the lemons ripen in the springtime, and is often drunk in the summer as a spritz with soda or with a cheap sparkling Prosecco.

 

4 large, unwaxed lemons – ideally from your own tree

1L bottle of vodka 550g caster sugar 550ml boiling water

 

Peel the zest from the lemons with a potato peeler, taking care not to include any white pith. Put the zest in a large sterilised screw-top or clip-top jar and cover with the vodka. Seal and set aside for 2 weeks, shaking the jar each day to ensure that the oils infuse.

Put the caster sugar in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Leave the sugar syrup to cool completely. (This is very important because if the sugar syrup is warm it will produce a cloudy limoncello.)

Pass the lemon-infused vodka through a very fine or muslin-lined sieve into a jug. Mix with the sugar syrup and stir well. Pour the mixture into sterilised, decorative bottles, adding a few strips of lemon zest to each bottle. Seal tightly with a cork or airtight lid. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks or so to let the flavours develop before serving.

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