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Thread: Limoncello (Lemoncello) the Italian way

  1. #1
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    Got back from the south of Italy a couple of months ago. Have been making my own Lemoncello for a number of years using vodka and it has been OK. Using juice and skin plus different combo's of water, sugar, etc. While on vacation there called in a small pizza place near the toe of Italy one night. The place was empty. Early November. Got taking to the owner and his wife about olive oil and lemoncello. Turned out they produced their own olive oil so we got a couple of liters. Then tried their home made lemoncello. It was the best I have ever had. The wife told me the recipe and, of course, it turned out to be much easier than everthing I had tried.
    Here it is.
    10 lemons - peal skin only, no white
    1 liter pure spirit (95%)- You could use vodka but would need to use about 3 pints and cut down on water later.
    Put lemon peel in spirit in non-reactive container. Leave for at least three weeks moving occasionally.
    After three or more weeks- Take 3 pints of warm water and dissolve two and a half pounds of sugar until clear. Allow to cool and then mix with lemon peel and spirit. Leave for two weeks. Strain out peel and bottle. Put bottle in freezer for a few hours. It should come out like a syrup when pouring. Great after a meal. I like it when I have coffee. It is supposed to settle your tum after food but is so easy to drink that my wife and myself have been known to finish the whole bottle. By the way a good use for the lemons if you don't want to make juice. Cut off the ends and cut down middle then half the sides. Carefully put in freezer bags so that it is skin to flesh. Freeze. You now have lemon for you drink that acts like an ice cube but doesn't dilute your drink. HOPE YOU ENJOY.
    Thanks,
    Mike in Malta

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    Mike,

    Thank you for sharing. I've had the commercial stuff and have enjoyed it. I will give your recipe a try.

    Did I miss the volume of water in your recipe?

    Jim

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    Dumb me. It should have said 3 pints of warm water stir with sugar until clear. I will go back and edit the original. Thanks Jim
    Thanks,
    Mike in Malta

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    Mike,

    I calculate this comes out to about 70 proof. Is that near the commercial version's potency?

    Jim

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    Hi Jim,
    The pure spirit I got in Italy is 95% by volume. You are then adding roughly just over two liters of water and sugar so you should be about 30% by volume. I am not sure what that would be proof but 70% proof sounds about right. I do know that it can be a little exciting if you don't watch it when you are drinking it because it goes down to easily. You are right it does come out at the same as the commercial products which in EU are usually about the 30% by volume mark.
    Mike
    Thanks,
    Mike in Malta

  6. #6
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    Mike,

    I'm going to start a batch of your liqueur, although my wife has convinced me to try it using tangerines. I am unclear on whether you add the lemon juice to your pure spirit. The reason I ask is that my commercial bottle of Lemoncello says on the label that lemon juice is mixed with the spirit.

    Jim

  7. #7
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    Hi Jim,
    I know that some recipes do include the lemon juice but the one above came from an italian family who ran their own pizza place in southern Italy. After trying their lemoncello and finding it better than all the recipes I tried before I have stuck with it. I only use the top layer of the skin, using a veg. peeler to take off the layer, while trying to avoid the white, which can cause bitterness. I have tried many different combo's including- orange, orange and lemon, orange lemon and lime, kumquat, and a few others. Have never tried tangerine because of the skin problem (not using the white). The best combo's have been (to my taste)- Lemon, Lemon and Lime, and a new one I have just finished with Kumquat (spelling is prob. wrong). I have always gone back to the sharper flavors which, for me, seem to work much better, especially when you put it in the freezer before use. Hope this is of some help.
    Mike
    Thanks,
    Mike in Malta

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    I'm making this right now. I have always used vodka and juice with some zest. I really like the idea of the grain alcohol and zest only. I'm looking forward to it and I'll let you know how it comes out a couple months from today.
    Kevin

  9. #9
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    Kevin,
    Hope you have success. The lemons here are very juicy with a quite thin skin. Even when you plant a non-maltese variety they very quickly (because of the climate here) develop the same nature as the local ones. Of course the lemons are not waxed. Hope you can get something similar. We have also just got a lime, a gratefruit, and a kumquat bushes which we are trying in our courtyard. I made up a batch of kumquatcello a couple of weeks ago. It is quite good but of a different nature to the lemoncello even though I followed the same method. It is quite a sweet drink that would work with someone who finds the lemoncello to sharp. Keep in touch and let me know how it works out.
    Thanks,
    Mike in Malta

  10. #10
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    Mike in Malta - You got me started, now no citrus fruit is safe.



    These are half-batches of Meyer lemon, grapefruit, key lime, and tangerine. I'll post my results when complete.

    Jim

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