The first time I had Limoncello was many years ago during our cruise ship days. To this day with each sip, the flavor takes me right back.
We were in Italy on the Isle of Capri in the Gulf of Naples. An amazingly picturesque island with craggy white cliffs, cobalt blue water and the constant bustle of small boats coming in and out of the Marina Grande.
With the sun warming our shoulders, we strolled around the Piazza and through the narrow streets looking at the shops filled with exquisite Italian leather shoes and designer clothing.
Around every corner we were greeted with the smell of espresso or creamy gelato in a rainbow of colors and bakeries that filled the air with the scent of butter and almond.
So quintessentially Italian, you’d expect to see Sofia Loren lounging next to her Vespa sipping a cappuccino wearing huge sunglasses and of course, capri pants.
We enjoyed a late lunch in a little open air restaurant overlooking the harbor. We were served fresh seafood with pasta and wine brought to the table in big earthenware pitchers. As we finished, the owner brought two cold ceramic glasses painted with lemons and green leaves. He beamed and said “digestive” or after-dinner digestive.
That was the beginning of my love affair with Limoncello.
Recently I was gifted a large bag of lemons. Do you even have to wonder what I did?
I made Limoncello. Duh!
The bright tart lemon flavor tastes like all the best of summer in a glass. I’m especially fond of homemade Limoncello.
Being frugal I love that Limoncello is made from part of the lemon that’s often thrown away – the peel or zest. You can enjoy the lemon juice for other things like making lemonade or lemon curd.
This recipe is really simple but it takes a week to infuse so plan accordingly if you’re making this for an occasion.
Most people make Limoncello with sugar but because I’m trying to cut sugar out of my diet I now make it with stevia and I love it! I often find Limoncello too sweet so I enjoy being able to adjust for my taste.
Homemade Sugar-Free Limoncello
What You’ll Need:
- 2 pounds lemons – that’s about 8 lemons
- 750 ml vodka – the cheap stuff is OK and you can filter it – How to Filter Bad Vodka into Good
- Stevia to taste – I used ½ cup of the stevia baking blend but stevia strength varies so add to taste
If you want to make a this with sugar, see additional directions below.
Using a grater or microplane, remove the zest from all the lemons. Your hands and kitchen will smell heavenly. Be really careful not to get any of the white pith as that’s really bitter and not very Diva in your Limoncello.
Place the zest into a lidded glass container. I use a quart mason jar and it’s perfect. Pour the vodka over the zest and place the closed jar in a cool dark place, shaking daily, and let the vodka and lemon zest get to know each other for a week.
After a week; strain the liquid through a colander lined with muslin or several layers of cheesecloth. Return the infused vodka into the container of your choice.
Add stevia to taste and place in the freezer. When it’s good and cold, taste again and adjust sweetness if necessary.
After you’ve got your homemade Limoncello sweetened, keep it in the freezer for blissful sipping. They say it keeps for up to a year but I’ll never know because it never lasts that long in my world.
Sugar Directions – If you’re using sugar instead of stevia – make simple syrup made by boiling ⅔ cup water and ⅔ cup sugar in a small sauce pan until sugar is totally dissolved. Let cool completely. Once cooled, add the syrup to the infused vodka.
What do I do with Limoncello?
Limoncello is traditionally served very cold as an after-dinner digestive but you can enjoy it anytime.
The light lemony flavor makes Limoncello perfect for spring and summer parties where lighter fare will be served. Events like Bridal Showers, Ladies Tea or Luncheon, Wedding Receptions and Baby Showers.
Limoncello mixes with Lemonade, sparkling water, cranberry juice, or cola.
Mixed with iced tea makes a nice little cocktail like Arnold Palmer’s tipsy Auntie.
Here’s a favorite of mine
Bacio del Limone – Italian for “lemon kiss,” this drink can be served in a champagne glass for an elegant, festive presentation.
What You’ll Need:
- 4 ounces sparkling wine (chilled)
- 1 ounce Limoncello (chilled)
- Crushed ice
- 5-6 fresh blackberries or raspberries
- Put a spoonful of crushed ice in a champagne glass and top with the fresh berries.
- Combine the sparkling wine and Limoncello in a mixing glass and stir just enough to mix, being careful not to lose all the bubbles.
- Pour the mixture over the berries and ice.
However and whenever you enjoy your Limoncello here’s to making memories.
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