Lemoncello is mainly produced in Southern Italy, especially in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi, and islands of Procida, Ischia, and Capri.
Traditionally, lemoncello is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento or Sfusato lemons. Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, is steeped in rectified spirit until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup.
Varying the sugar-to-water ratio and the temperature affects the clarity, viscosity, and flavor. It has a slightly turbid appearance, which originates from the presence of small (approximately 100 nanometers) essential oil droplets suspended in the drink. Opaque lemoncellos are the result of spontaneous emulsification (otherwise known as the ouzo effect) of the sugar syrup and extracted lemon oils.
What Alcohol to Use?
If you have the option, 100 proof vodka or even higher-proof grain alcohol is the very best to use for making lemoncello. This will extract more and better lemon flavor from the peels, and makes a smoother, less cloying lemoncello.
This said, 80 proof vodka is also fine to use — it’s also easier to find and less expensive than 100 proof. If you use 80 proof vodka, you won’t need to add as much sugar syrup after infusing the vodka. If you have access to them, Meyer lemons make a superb lemoncello. You can also branch out into other citrus fruits like grapefruits, oranges, and tangerines.
8 large unwaxed lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 cups premium vodka
- Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Peel the lemon skin with a vegetable peeler making sure you don’t remove the white pith which will make the limoncello bitter then juice the 8 lemons through a sieve.
3.Pour the sugar syrup, lemon juice and vodka into a pouring jug and stir to combine.
- Add the lemon peel to a large 1.5-litre bottle (or 2 smaller ones) and pour in the limoncello mixture.
- Place the limoncello in the fridge until extra cold then serve. The limoncello will get better the longer it’s left. If preferred you can decant the limoncello into a different bottle removing the peel after 1 day up to 1 month after making (the longer the peel steeps the better the taste).
Commercial production was about 15 million liters in 2003.