Brew your own: Limoncello

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday December 24, 2007.

Limoncello was first introduced to us by some friends a couple of years ago. They had us over after a football game and we sat around the chiminea and had shot glasses filled with the stuff. I had never even heard of it but was game for trying out something that’s homebrewed. It was good.

Then we had some friends serve it at their wedding instead of having a champagne toast. There was an explanation that I don’t remember as to why, and everyone took home a limoncello glass with the bride and groom’s names engraved. Since the stuff is very easy to make, we decided we’d give it a try so we’d have something cool to give away for Christmas.

Here is the recipe we used:

  • 3 1.75L bottles of Vodka
  • 1 1.75L bottle of Everclear
  • 40 lemons (we got a bunch from Granola from his grandma’s tree and bought the rest)
  • 8 cups of sugar
  • 8 cups of water

Peel the lemon skins off with a peeler and be careful not to get any of the white stuff, called pith, with it. You want the skins, not the lemons, so it’s important to get as little pith as possible. It makes your limoncello bitter. Once you’ve got the lemons peeled, put them in a glass bottle, like a 5 gallon carboy or something that will contain all that booze. We used a plastic food grade bucket that has been used to brew many batches of beer. Pour the booze into there and seal it however you can. Instead of using an airlock, which is necessary for beer, we just put saran wrap over it and put the lid on.

Wait a while. The minimum is two weeks, which we did because we started very late. You can wait up to four months, and the longer it goes, the yellower it gets and presumably the more lemony it gets. After the allotted time, strain out the lemon peels and everything that comes with them. We have a fine strainer so we used that. I’ve heard that pouring the liquid through a coffee filter is good too. Also, combine the water and sugar and boil them for 8-10 minutes to create the simple syrup. Let that cool down and mix the two together and bottle. We bought lemonade from Cost Plus with the rubber stoppers and washed them out to prepare. Our batch created eight bottles and we have a bunch left over. Probably two bottles worth. You should wait a week before trying it, but we tried ours tonight and it’s pretty good.

Below are the pictures I took of the process.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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