First, you will need a 750ml bottle of vodka, not necessarily high end but one that’s good enough that you would serve to other people (I like using Skyy), and a 750ml bottle of Everclear. Next, you’ll need 15 lemons who’s skins are just about perfect. You don’t want many bruises because we need the zest. Finally, you need a good vegetable peeler and a 2 gallon glass jar.
Using your vegetable peeler, peel only the zest of the lemons into long strips.
Make sure you only get the zest. You don’t want any of the pith or it will make your limoncello bitter and bitter limoncello will get you thrown out of any self respecting Italian's house! The zest is where all the sweetness and flavor of the lemon is.
Place these strips in the 2 gallon glass jar. It’s best that you use glass because of the acid from the lemons. Once you have all the lemon zest in the jar, pour the bottle of vodka and Everclear in.
Shake this like a Polaroid picture and put it in a dark place. Every once in awhile, or – if you’re like me – every time you remember, shake the lemon zest and alcohol mixture. In 3 months, take out a slice of zest and bend it. If it breaks, you’re ready to add the sugar syrup mixture; if it doesn’t keep the jar in the dark place. The goal is to leach all the lemon essential oils out of the zest and into the alcohol. We’ll check in on the liqueuer in about 3 months.
We are going to juice the actual lemon for a canned lemonade concentrate recipe that will follow this post.
Real Deal Limoncello
One Bottle (750 ml) Everclear (95% alcohol 190 Proof)One Bottle (750 ml) good but not necessarily premium vodka (40% alcohol 80 Proof)
15 large thick skinned bright yellow lemons (without scars or flaws in the skin if possible.)
1. Make sure the lemons are cleaned to remove all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals. Dry the lemons. use a potato peeler to peel just the yellow part of the skin off the lemons.
2. Place lemon zest into a 2 gallon glass jar.
3. Pour the bottle of Everclear and the bottle of vodka into the jar.
4. Shake the jar and put away in a cool dark place.
5. Shake jar every other week...or whenever you remember.
6. We will revisit our liqueur in about 90 days