Smile Politely

Make your own limoncello

I like to cook. I also like to drink. And limoncello holds a special place in my heart: it takes me back to a sticky-hot night in an Italian restaurant. The meal was pasta with red sauce. Afterwards, an ice-cold shot of the thick, sugary, boozy, limoncello — homemade. I wanted to relive that moment, so I looked into making my own.

It turns out you don’t have to order any supplies or travel anywhere other than Champaign-Urbana to get everything you need. This recipe will make about 7 bottles of limoncello. If that’s too much, you can use half the amount of ingredients and make about 3.5 bottles. 

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • 30 organic lemons from Common Ground Food Co-op or Strawberry Fields.
  • 10 cups of granulated sugar.
  • 10 cups of water from your faucet because Champaign-Urbana has some of the best water the country.
  • 2 fifths (750ml each) of Everclear or Gemclear.
  • Grater or zester from Art Mart.
  • 1 large jug; I like to use the jugs from wine.
  • Empty bottles, caps, cheese cloth, and funnel from Friar Tuck.

1. Wash the lemons

2. Use the grater or zester to remove the outer layer of the lemon and save the shavings. This is actually the part of the lemon you will be using. Be careful to not include the white layer because it is bitter.

There is more than one technique. Choose one that makes your hand hurt the least.

Here are the shavings. Put them all in one large bowl. Your house should be smelling of fresh lemon by now.

3. Get your jug and stuff all of the shavings into it. We tried to use a paper funnel but it fell apart. You could try using the funnel you bought if it is big enough. Whatever works for you, get creative. Just get the shavings into the jug.

Wow that is a lot of zest!

4. Pour both bottles of Everclear into the jug with the shavings. Make sure its the 190 proof and not that weak shit. This is one of those recipes in which it is not advised to take swigs of the booze you’re working with.

5. Cap the jar and set it in a cool place out of direct sunlight. And if you’re like me, you need it out of YOUR sight so you don’t get impatient. Let the jug sit for a 30 days. During that time the alcohol will suck the delicous lemon flavor out of the shavings and into the booze. Some recipes say not to open the cap but I did a few times just to smell it and the batch turned out fine. No need to shake either. Just be patient.

6. After 30 days,  add sugar in the form of a 1:1 ratio simple syrup. It’s easy to make. Put 10 cups of water and 10 cups of sugar into a pot. Put it on the stove and turn it on high. Let the water come to a boil while you stir it, and then turn the heat down to low. The sugar will dissolve. Now let the mixture cool and then pour it into your big jug of booze and shavings. Let that sit fo 10 days.

7. After 10 days have passed, line the funnel with the cheese cloth (doubled), stick the funnel tip into your bottle and pour your mix. The cheese cloth will filter out the shavings.

8. Stick your bottles in the freezer over night to get them as cold as possible. Limoncello is best served ice cold.

9. Enjoy and share!

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