Meyer lemon liqueur (homemade limoncello) Learn to make this classic Italian after-dinner drink at home
Homemade liqueurs: throwback to a bygone era
There’s something old-fashioned about sipping a glass of liqueur after a meal – especially when the liqueur happens to be homemade!
For centuries, liqueurs were made to preserve, let’s say, a harvest of plump raspberries, green walnuts or sunny lemons. But it’s a craft that has been almost completely forgotten by the modern cook.
As old-fashioned as it might be, it’s incredibly rewarding to make your own liqueurs. Although you will need a little patience for them to infuse, liqueurs are astonishingly easy to prepare.
Meyer lemons make this the tastiest limoncello ever!
Meyer lemons are one of my most treasured fruits, and I’ll admit that I can never get enough of them. So when the season starts winding down, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and preserve a taste of the harvest. It’s time to make limoncello!
This recipe calls for Meyer lemons, but, of course, you can substitute regular lemons in their place. And if you want to capture the fruits’ liveliness, make sure to get the freshest lemons you can lay your hands on.
While this homemade liqueur is perfect on its own (well chilled!), you’ll also want to try this limoncello Bellini … it is most sippable. Happy liqueur making!
Meyer lemon liqueur (homemade limoncello)
makes 3 cups (24 oz) ( 710ml)
active time: 20 min
- 3 large Meyer lemons (12 oz) (340 g)
- 2 cups (16 oz) (470 ml) 80-proof vodka (40% ABV)
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup spring water
- 1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice – strained
- Step 1: Peel the lemons with a vegetable hand-peeler, being careful to strip only the zest and as little of the white pith as possible. Place the lemon zest in a large clean glass jar. Pour the vodka over the zest. Seal the jar, shake well and store at room temperature in a dark cupboard for 45 to 60 days, shaking the jar once a week. When the lemon peels look very pale, almost white, you’re ready to proceed with the recipe.
- Step 2: To make the syrup – Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup has slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature.
- Step 3: Open the jar containing the lemon zest and vodka and pour the syrup into it. Seal, shake well and store at room temperature in a dark cupboard for one more week.
- Step 4: Strain the liqueur through a fine cheesecloth (or coffee filter) and pour into a clean glass bottle. Store the liqueur in the freezer. Serve very chilled.
- Cook’s note: It’s most unusual for me to use regular (bleached) sugar in any of my recipes. But the organic sugar that I favor turns into a brownish syrup that makes the liqueur slightly brown too – not as appealing to the eye as one might want, especially when serving the liqueur to guests. Hence the use of regular sugar in this recipe.