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How to Make Limoncello at Home

Here's the recipe for homemade limoncello. With a detailed photo gallery, we illustrate the creation of this artisanal liqueur.

by BioGrow

Today, we present the recipe for homemade Limoncello. After discussing the organic cultivation of lemon plants, it seems fitting to offer an idea for utilizing the fruit and explain how to make Limoncello within the confines of your home, without the necessity of purchasing it from stores (which, in general, we advise against, and we’ll explain why in the article).
As always, when dealing with liquor recipes, we’ll accompany the explanation with a detailed photo gallery.

Step by step, we will guide you through the preparation of this fantastic artisanal liqueur.

Harvesting the Lemons

Basket of freshly harvested lemons to use for the homemade limoncello recipe
The first step in presenting the recipe for homemade Limoncello is the harvest of the fruits. It might seem trivial, but in our opinion, it’s not at all. Let’s see why.
To make Limoncello, we use only the peel, not the lemon juice or pulp. We are not making lemonade (though you could make that separately). So, only the peel, nothing else.
As we’ve explained before when discussing the organic cultivation of lemons, the fruits available in the market undergo numerous treatments, particularly concerning their external surface.
The most common treatments include fungicides and waxing. The wax gives the fruit that shiny and attractive appearance that supermarkets demand to sell it better. For this reason, if you want to make artisanal Limoncello, we strongly recommend using exclusively untreated organic lemons, preferably from your own plant. In this case, we harvested lemons in November that were not fully ripe. They are completely untreated and, even at this level of ripeness, they are perfect for the Limoncello recipe.

Ingredients for the Homemade Limoncello Recipe

After these necessary clarifications, let’s move on to the ingredients needed for the homemade Limoncello recipe:

  • 10 organic lemons
  • 1 liter of food-grade alcohol
  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kg of sugar (optionally, you can use cane sugar)

Preparing the Artisanal Limoncello

Peeling the Lemon

As we mentioned, we are interested in the peel for the Limoncello recipe. So, we need to separate the lemon peel from the pulp, being extremely careful to use only the superficial part. It’s essential to avoid the white pith that covers the segments as it’s too bitter and would ruin the final taste of the liqueur.
To perform this operation correctly, we used a simple peeler.

Peeling the lemon for the homemade limoncello preparation
With this handy tool, it’s effortless to remove the peel without any pith residue, which is edible and rich in properties, but too bitter for our artisanal Limoncello.
Naturally, at this point, we’ll have 10 peeled lemons to use. The easiest way is to make a good juice. This way, you’ll obtain organic lemon juice to serve separately, but we’ll leave that to your imagination.

Infusion

The obtained lemon peel will be placed in a glass container to which the liter of food-grade alcohol will be added.
Lemons in alcohol
The container with the lemon peel and alcohol will be sealed and left to infuse for 30 days. Choose a dark place away from heat sources. To seal the container better, you can use some cellophane before closing it with the cap.
Lemon wedges in alcohol
After 30 days of infusion, this will be the result you’ll obtain.
Infusion of lemons

Filtering

After this period, we need to proceed with filtering the infusion. To do this without leaving any residue, we used a funnel, a strainer, and some cotton.
Use of a strainer and cotton to hand-filter
By using the cotton to filter, you’ll ensure that no residue passes through the strainer.

Residues of lemon pulp

Residues of lemon pulp and seeds in the limoncello recipe

The Syrup

The final stage of this homemade Limoncello recipe is the preparation of the syrup. Take the liter of water and the kilo of sugar.

water and sugar dissolved

Water and sugar dissolved

As we saw with the recipes for pomegranate liqueur and wild fennel liqueur, there are three recommendations for properly dissolving the sugar:

  • Keep the flame low
  • Stir continuously
  • Let the syrup cool down well

Once the syrup has cooled down, you can proceed to add the result of the alcohol infusion and lemon peel.
Infusion of alcohol and syrup for homemade limoncello recipe
At this point, you need to stir patiently to achieve a well-blended Limoncello with this final color.

Coloring of limoncello liqueur

Coloring of limoncello liqueur

Final Color of the Liqueur[/caption>

The Waiting

The final step of this homemade Limoncello recipe involves transferring the liqueur back into the glass container. Then, seal it tightly and let it rest for another 7 days in a closed place.
Transfer of homemade limoncello
This way, we’ll eliminate the alcohol scent and achieve a more delicate taste.

Homemade limoncello
After the 7-day rest, your artisanal Limoncello is ready to be transferred into glass bottles. It’s recommended to keep it in the freezer before serving. Limoncello is best enjoyed chilled!

Homemade limoncello bottles
Here you can find some glass bottles, very stylish and ideal for giving a nice gift to your friends.

Final Evaluation of the Limoncello Recipe

To recap, for the homemade Limoncello recipe, we used:

  • 10 organic lemons from our tree (cost: zero)
  • 1 kg of sugar (€1.50)
  • 1 liter of food-grade alcohol (€15-€20)
  • 1 liter of water

To calculate the alcohol content, we must take into account the increase in volume of the liquid due to the preparation with the syrup.
Sugar yields 60 grams of liquid per 1 kg. So, with our quantities, we’ll have: 1000 g of sugar / 1.6 = 625 ml increase in volume.
Total: 1000 ml of alcohol + 1000 ml of water + 625 ml sugar yield = 2.6 liters of Limoncello.
For the alcohol content in percentage, we’ll have: (950 (1000 ml of 95° alcohol) x 100) / 2625 ml total = approximately 36°.
With 10 lemons and a total cost of about 20 euros, we obtained over 2.5 liters of excellent artisanal Limoncello.

Conclusion

In conclusion, self-production works!
Finally, remember that you can also experiment with other liqueur recipes, such as pomegranate liqueur, licorice liqueur, melon liqueur, laurel liqueur, mint liqueur, hemp liqueur, or wild fennel liqueur.

Further Reading

  • ResearchGate – Analysis of Volatiles in Limoncello Liqueur and Aging Study with Sensory – An article discussing the analysis of volatiles in Limoncello liqueur and an aging study with sensory.
  • ResearchGate – Looking into Limoncello: The Structure of the Italian Liquor Revealed by Small-Angle Neutron Scattering – This research reveals the structure of the Italian liquor, Limoncello, using small-angle neutron scattering.
  • PubMed – Looking into Limoncello: The Structure of the Italian Liquor Revealed by Small-Angle Neutron Scattering – Another study examining the structure of Limoncello, an Italian liquor made from lemon essential oils.
  • PubMed – Lemon peel and Limoncello liqueur: a proteomic duet – An article exploring the proteomics of lemon peel and Limoncello liqueur.

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