We love to make maple lemonade in the summertime. Just a bit of maple, some fresh lemon juice and a can of seltzer if you want to get fancy.
With a cup or two a day, that’s a lot of lemons. It seems a shame to let all that tasty lemon zest go to waste, so why not make limoncello?
Limoncello is an Italian liquor made with lemon zest extracted in a neutral liquor (like vodka or grain alcohol) and sweetened with simple syrup.
We’ve tried a number of different ratios and finally settled on a recipe that’s extra lemony and just sweet enough.
Our recipe involves the zest of 20 lemons and 7 cups of vodka, sweetened with simple syrup (1 sugar dissolved in 1 cup water).
Start with a half gallon mason jar and fill it about 3/4 full with vodka. Add in the lemon zest. Since we use a lemon or two each day, we add the zest in one at a time and mark a piece of masking tape on the jar to count each addition.
The best way I’ve found to zest a lemon is with a small micro plane. It’s like a grater, but each hole is more like a super tiny razor blade (or plane really…). It shaves off just the very outside of the lemon, leaving the bitter white pith behind.
Once you hit the zest of 20 lemons, put the jar away in a dark pantry and forget about it. Every time you remember, give it a shake. Let it sit for at least a month, but if you forget it for 6 months, no worries.
When you’re ready to bottle it, filter the lemon zest out through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.
Make a simple syrup by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, and then adding in 1 cup of sugar. Stir until dissolved, and allow to cool.
Add the simple syrup back into the filtered limoncello. This is why you only filled the jar 3/4 of the way, now the syrup will fit.
Give it a shake, and cap it up.
At this point, you can drink it but it’s better if you give it a month for the flavors to mellow. Limoncello can be kept in the freezer, and it’s best served ice cold in a small glass, or added to drinks as a mixer. For something a bit more exotic, I’ve also made this recipe with Meyer lemons too!