If I could capture summer in a bottle, then this would be it. We tasted our first Limoncello in the small village of Montelpulciano in Tuscany one summer and we were hooked. In Johannesburg our favorite little Italian restaurant would keep us stocked with what owner, Giovanni and his wife made in their kitchen for themselves. Our Italian friends Dalene and Fiorenza, who live in Wilmington, North Carolina, gave us this recipe, which is the most authentic, we have found outside of Italy. You will only need the rinds here, but keep the juice and make a lemon meringue tart and lemonade with the juice. This recipe takes no short cuts; it takes time to make the good stuff, so start in spring or early in summer.
Yield: 2 Quarts (2 liters)
4 cups vodka
3 cups sugar
6 ½ cups water
1. Wash the lemons well, scrub the skins and pat them dry.
2. Using a lemon zester remove the zest of all the lemons, being careful not to remove any of the white pith, as this will make the taste bitter.
3. In a large pitcher or jar add the vodka to the lemon zest.
3. Give the zest and vodka a good mix, cover the jar and keep it in a dark place for about a month. It’s a good idea to mark the date on the bottle so that you remember when the month is up.
4. After a month make the simple syrup. In a saucepan over a medium heat combining the sugar and the water and simmer until the sugar dissolves – about 10 minutes.
5. Allow the syrup to cool completely for approximately 1 hour.
6. Through a very fine sieve or cheesecloth, strain the vodka, making sure not to get any of the zest in the liquid.
7. Combine the strained vodka with the simple syrup.
8. Time to bottle the . Sterilize the bottles you will be using by boiling them. Seal tightly into bottles and store for another month.
Tip – the longer the mixture rests, the smoother the flavor of the final product.