This recipe is one reason I started writing a cookbook. Offered as hostess gifts and an unexpected apertif at a dinner party, limoncella sneaks right in to take center stage: everyone wanted the recipe. You will have to wait for my cookbook, I would tease. And now, cookbook turned to blog means all of you who have waited so patiently for the infamous limoncello recipe will be so armed.
It is especially daunting---and equally impressive---to tell people it takes 80 days to make. Yes, it does, but only because it is better that way, not because it is harder to make (perhaps harder to WAIT but not harder to MAKE---big difference).
Limoncello 15 thick-skinned lemons (I buy the Costco bags) 2 bottles (750 ml each) of 100 proof Vodka (I use potato vodka) 4 1/2 cups sugar 5 cups water
Wash the lemons in hot water before you start. Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler, taking care to peel only the yellow skin, no white pith. Put peels in a large glass jar with lid, approximately 4-quarts (I bought a glass iced tea jar and it worked awesome). Add 1 bottle of Vodka and stir. Cover the jar, date it, and put it in cool, dark pantry (or the closest thing you have to a pantry). After 40 days, take out the lemon-vodka mixture. In a sauce pan set over high heat, stir the sugar and water together and boil for 5 minutes. Let the sugar syrup cool completely in the pan, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar syrup to the lemon-vodka mixture along with the second bottle of vodka. Stir well to combine. Replace the cover on the jar and note the finish date. Return it to the dark pantry/closet and store for 40 more days. At day 80, remove the limoncello from the cabinet. Strain the mixture and discard the lemon peel. Use funnel to pour into glass bottles, seal with caps or corks. Store the bottles in the pantry, but put one bottle at a time in the freezer until ready to use. Makes approximately 3 quarts.
(Note: I juice all 15 lemons, and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for future use. Alternatively, you could make a big, yummy batch of fresh squeezed lemonade)