When Life (or Costco) Gives You Lemons, Part II

Ahhhh, limoncello!

I made my first batch of limoncello, a couple of years ago. It was good but I felt it could be better. So it’s off to the internet to search for recipes. Most of the recipe differences came down to how many lemons to use and how much simple syrup to add at the end. I settled on combining recipes from Bell’alimento and Lidia’s Italy.

This project began two months ago with the zesting of the lemons and then using the now naked lemons (before they could go bad) to make Faye’s famous lemon tart.

Zesting lemons

The vodka for the limoncello was recommended by the man at the liquor store – he said the potato vodka was the best. Not having any experience with vodka, I took his word for it.

Zest in vodka

Add the vodka to the bottle with the lemon peel, shake gently to mix, place in a cool, dark area – and then wait.  For a month.  That was February.

At the end of February I made the simple syrup, let it cool and then added it to the vodka bottle. Shake gently to mix with the other ingredients – and then wait.  For another month.

Finally, at the end of March I strained the liquid and bottled the limoncello. It is a lovely clear yellow color and tastes great.

Bottled Limoncello

But I did not quite think through how I was going to get all those lemon peels out of the vodka bottle. I finally used a wooden skewer and my finger to get them all out.

It seems a shame to throw all those vodka infused lemon peels out. Hmmm, there must be something I can do with them.   I’ll keep you posted.


750 ml potato vodka
10 lemons – peeled
3 c sugar
4 ½ c water

Wash and pat dry the lemons. Use a vegetable peeler to zest them, making sure to omit the white pith. (The pith makes the limoncello bitter.)

Stir the lemon peels into the vodka in a glass bottle or jar. Cover, and keep in a cool, dark place for 30 days. (There is no need to stir or mix the liquid.)  When it is ready, the liquid will smell strongly of lemon rinds and be a deep-yellow color.

At the end of the month, bring water and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 to 7 minutes; let cool.

Add sugar syrup to the vodka and lemon zest, stir, and let rest for an additional 30 days, to let the flavors further mellow and blend with the sugar syrup.

Strain the limoncello through a moistened cheesecloth or coffee filters. Discard the lemon zest, pour the strained limoncello into your choice of bottle, and seal tightly.

Note: Limoncello is best served chilled. Bottles can be kept in the freezer.

Adapted from Lidia’s Italy.

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