making limoncello

Ever feel like you’re swimming through all the cold spots in an otherwise hot-tub ocean? Recently three friends e-mailed me asking when I was going to post again. My husband asked the same question, in person, and weathered a huffy response. My sister e-mailed me with the subject line, “quiet out there” and this note:

We are in a Mercury retrograde if you are into such things, and boy, what a sucky time August is turning out to be. Hope you are faring well.

I’m stuck in the cold spots. I’ve got lemons.


Mercury Retrograde, you dingbat, quit it with the photo-bombing. Enough! And stop boiling my words into gelatinous blobs of bland…blandness…blandosity. Truce. Blanditos. Seriously, stop it.

I don’t follow such things but I’m happy to hear about them. I need a scapegoat and I can see Mercury Retrograde over there chewing on my furniture. Sucky moments can give you another perspective. You can take what you have and change it.

I’ve been wanting to make limoncello. Let’s do it. We’ll sip our ice cold, citrus elixir on Christmas or whatever holiday you get wound up about as long as it’s at least eighty days from now.

limoncello jar bowl of lemons sun

I used 21 organic lemons, 1.75 liters of 100 proof Vodka and a large Le Parfait jar with an airtight, resealable lid. I chose the grasshopper route and peeled all 21 of these sour sisters by hand with a freshly honed paring knife.

lemon peeled with a paring knife for limoncello

A mindful, slow, steady draw of the blade works best. When you see a hint of the blade’s metal through the lemon’s skin you should be removing the peel without taking the pith. Pith is the white layer and it’ll make limoncello bitter. If you see white on the peel then simply slice or scrape it off. Peeling 21 lemons by hand and meticulously removing all traces of pith will improve your knife skills. Or you can opt for a very sharp vegetable peeler. Either way I say: set a scene for yourself. Peeling these lemons will take some time and when you drink Limoncello 2011 you’ll probably remember the day you made it. Make it pretty.

set the scene for making limoncello

I wanted to chill, change the vibe, sit outside in the sun and think about people I’ll share some of this Limoncello with in 3 months. By then the oil from these 21 lemon peels will have infused the vodka to golden-yellow, persistent as the summer sun; lit from within.

limoncello and the city

We want Limoncello 2011 to become full-bodied and silky. We want it to rouse us with bright taste and dense lemony aroma,  mesmerize with its velvety feel and soothe with a sweet finish. Poetry better fall from our lips and kerplunk on the floor when we sip this limoncello.

I’ll let you know how Limoncello 2011 invokes my summer day of grasshopper knife training in the garden. If you make some let me know! Who’re you gonna share a freezer-cold, lemon-bright, creamy, dreamy Limoncello with?

limoncello and the bonjour tag

Here’s how I’m making Limoncello 2011:


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2 Responses to making limoncello

  1. Welcome back! I don’t know how you managed to peel all that lemon by yourself but I applaud you! I fear my fingers would’ve ended in rigamortis for an indefinite amount of time. But, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do for some sweet citrus elixir! :-p I’ve never made any myself, but I’ve heard wonderful things. Also heard about pineapple infused vodka, which also sounds yummy to me!

  2. It has been some time, welcome back. Looks like you came back with a good recipe, love the description. Neat idea making this for gifts-I have bookmarked this. Hey- Danny Devito is now making his own limoncello, so you are now part of that crowd!