Monday, April 8, 2013


Lovely Limoncello

essential: untreated lemons

...warming in winter, refreshing in summer;
excellent for adding to cake mixtures, crepes, summer drinks, drizzled on ice-cream;
or even to cure a cold...

Again, not a Tuscan recipe, limoncello originates in the lemon-rich coastal area south of Naples, but it's a liqueur we make each winter even in the heart of Tuscany. It's marvellous that oranges and lemons ripen when we most need their vitamin C and bright colours.


ratio: 12 lemons:1k sugar:1l water:1l alcohol

12 untreated lemons
1 kilo/5 cups/35.2 ounces (or less to taste) sugar
1 litre/4.22 cups/33.8 fluid ounces of  95% proof ethyl alcohol
1 litre ditto water
 (the more water you use the gentler the impact of the limoncello, but these are the canonical proportions)

Scrape/peel or grate the zest only from the lemons, leaving the white pith, and steep in the alcohol in a covered  jug or bowl overnight. The alcohol will draw all the lemon essence and much colour from the zest

pithless zest

Make a sugar syrup by blending hot (just boiled) water with sugar (you can also cook them a bit but usually the sugar will dissolve well in the very hot water)

Next day strain off and discard the lemon zest and add the yellow lemon liquor to the syrup: voila'!

If the syrup is warm when you blend it with the alcohol the limoncello will be cloudy; if it is cold it will be clear

Bottle and keep, or start tippling! 
There is no need to 'age' it.

use clean recycled bottles and cork firmly

Some people keep the limoncello in the fridge as they like it cold, but we don't...still, it's delicious cold in summer

It's also excellent drizzled on ice-cream or pancakes/crepes and added to cake recipes..

You can make a version of limoncello with mixed citrus or just limes or mandarins or oranges or even grapefruit. Always use untreated fruits.
When I make it with limes, or 
limes and lemons, I call it limeoncello...

a mix of citrus makes agrumetto

Afterwards you will have 12 bald lemons to deal with: these are perfect for lemon curd/butter/cheese for lemon tart or simply to squeeze and freeze the juice in ice cube trays for a handy extra supply of pure lemon juice...Or make homemade lemonade for the non-limoncello crowd.

 unfortunately this is not our lemon tree

Sadly we have to buy our untreated lemons: the climate at Le Ripe is plenty hot in summer but too cold in winter. We drag our lemon trees in and out of shelter each change of season, but they often suffer from being trapped indoors so long. I have resigned myself to never having a plentiful harvest...unless one day we can conjure up a limonaia (an orangerie for lemons)...

aren't lemons wonderful

1 comment:

  1. ps There are only three items which must never be missing from a well-supplied kitchen: eggs, garlic and lemons.


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