With the Christmas holidays approaching, it’s the time of year when people begin to plan events and stock up on seasonal goods. Mulled wine, Baileys, egg nog and champagne are among the more traditional drinks to serve but you could ring the changes this year with this limoncello recipe – it’s a zingy and refreshing alternative to the sometimes overly cloying classics and will cut nicely through that heavy, after dinner feeling.
All about limoncello liqueur
This lemony liqueur is a Southern Italian and particularly Neapolitan speciality and is one of the most popular drinks in Italy. Limoncello liqueur is also becoming fashionable in other parts of the world and is now to be found on the drinks and dessert menus of smart restaurants and bars in big cities. Traditionally special Sorrento Sfusato lemons are used, also known as Femminello St Teresa lemons, which are sweeter than your average lemon and are grown in abundance in this part of the world. If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast, you’ll probably notice limoncello being served in little ceramic glasses after dinner. There are creamier versions of the sunshiny liqueur available called Crema di Limoncello and some flavoured with other fruits, such as strawberry flavoured Fragoncello or Meloncello, made with cantaloupe melons.
Cold is the key here – limoncello looks and tastes like summer but it must be stored and served ice cold.
Limoncello liqueur recipe
To make about a litre:
- 150ml water
- 200g caster sugar
- Juice and zest of six lemons (unwaxed)
- 700ml eau de vie or vodka at 40-80% proof
Add the water and sugar to a saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the while, until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and allow to boil, then reduce a little to a brisk simmer for 3-5 minutes until the mixture thickens and reaches the consistency of a syrup. Set aside for a while to cool.
While the sugar syrup is still warm, add the lemon juice and zest and the spirits and stir well. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into sterilised bottles, seal and store somewhere cool and dark for about a month. Remember to give the bottles a shake regularly. After a month, strain the limoncello recipe into fresh, sterilised bottles.
The liqueur needs to be put into the freezer for several hours before serving in frozen shot glasses.
You can also use your limoncello in other recipes such as cocktails, ice creams and hot toddys.