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Easy Limoncello Recipe: Make the Sunshine of Sorrento at Home

If life hands you lemons in Sorrento, it's time for a limoncello!

In contrast to the iconic, but well-trodden landmarks in Florence, Venice, and Rome, Sorrento's charms are rooted in the dramatic sea and cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula.  Sorrento is an excellent base from which to explore the dramatic Amalfi Coast with its uniquely colored houses and enchanting vistas. 

Sorrento’s main calling card, however, is culinary.  It is the lemon capital of Italy, and home to one of Italy’s most beloved drinks: limoncello.  Limoncello is about as close as you can get to drinking sunshine, and the very thought of this bright lemony-yellow elixir conjures up images of Amalfi’s bright hot days and balmy seaside evenings.  It’s remarkably easy to make and the best way to get into the mood for an unforgettable journey to one of Italy’s most engaging regions.

Limoncello is an infusion of lemon zest in pure, flavorless and odorless grain alcohol or vodka.  Once made, limoncello keeps for almost two years in the pantry and can be used in all kinds of ways to bring the Sorrentine sunshine into your kitchen.  In Italy, the mixture makes an appearance as a chilled digestif, served in shot glasses at the end of a meal.  But the fun doesn’t stop there: in addition to great cocktails such as the lemon drop martini and a Limoncello Collins, you can use limoncello to flavor cakes, make delectable frosting, add a dash of flavor to ice-cream - the possibilities are endless.

If you can get Meyer lemons, these will make all the difference.  Their sweetness and relatively thin skin are packed with flavor. 

Limoncello Recipe:

     •  zest of 6 or 7 large organic lemons
     •  1 quart of flavorless/odorless grain alcohol or vodka
     •  5 cups water
     •  3 cups sugar

Instructions from Amalfi’s own Mama Agata:

Day 1
  1. Sterilize a gallon glass jar with a wide neck by running it through the dishwasher.
  2. Use a vegetable peeler or zester to remove the zest of the lemons but not the pith from the lemons.
  3. Place the lemon zest and the alcohol into the jar.  Cover and let rest in a cool, dark place for seven days.

Day 6
  1. Prepare simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and stir until the sugar is completely combined.   Let cool to room temperature (3-4 hours)

Day 7
  1. Strain the alcohol solution and discard the peels. 
  2. Add the simple syrup to the strained alcohol, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly combined.  
  3. Decant into clean glass bottles with a vacuum cap or cork and store in a cool dark place.  Better still; keep it in the freezer so you can whip the bottle out at a moment’s notice! 

Alexander+Roberts offers a number of Italian itineraries including the popular Italy by Rail.

Posted: 2/16/2016 10:31:03 AM by Alexander + Roberts