Yesterday I posted this photo of our latest batch of Limoncello. (thank you Charlie for the encement by way of your miraculous app) Many asked for the recipe, and here it is… along with a little story… of course!

In 2007, Jorge and I took “the grand tour”… a 6 week trip to Europe. Before we knew each other, we had both been on our own, but I had only seen northern countries. Jorge had been to France and Italy, and he assured me, this is where we should go. We had so much fun planning our itinerary, and Florence was to be the “grand finale”, the last stop on our adventure.

Prior to leaving Mexico, I read so much about this splendorous city of the Medici. It seemed to offer everything I love… clear light, sepia-coloured buildings, fashionable people, an abundance of art, the best food in the world, romantic music, and fabulous shopping. And after a harrowing transfer at Termini, Rome’s main train station, we checked into our hotel, in the Santa Croce district of Florence. We looked out of our room’s floor-to-ceiling window and saw Il Duomo. Sigh-igh-igh…

The view from our hotel window

I remember that the hotel staff couldn’t do enough for us… And our accommodation had two additional features we had not planned on. First off, the bathroom was HUGE. The sparkling white tub, shower stall, bidet, toilet and basin were set into blue, white and yellow Florentine tiles… in the afternoon after a long day of sight-seeing, we could soak in the tub and watch the street traffic, 5 floors below. What luxury after the 1 meter-square “water closets” we had encountered in our hotels everywhere else on our trip. I fell totally in love with Florence; Jorge also delighted in everything about the city.

That first night, we eventually tore ourselves away from the hotel, and found a tratoria, located just one block away . Absolutely satiated and totally happy after finishing our first meal in the capital of the Renascence…

Cozze e Vongole

Pasta con Cozze e Vongole… the waiter brought a sunshine yellow digestif to our table. Jorge looked most excited. “Is it Pernod?” I asked. “We are in Italia,” my husband reminded me, “Not France.” He picked up the bottle and poured us both a short glass. “THIS is Limoncello!” His eyes closed as he savoured the first chilled sip and I figured I’d give it a try. Instantly, I became even more of a fan than Jorge and asked for a second sample. “I’d wait until tomorrow,” he said, “it packs a punch, especially after a whole litre of wine.” Good advice! Limoncello can sneak up on you…

I discovered that nearly every restaurant makes its own, as do individual families… I wondered how I could manage to carry back a huge supply of this golden nectar. Out strolling one afternoon, I spotted an apron with the Limoncello recipe embossed on the front – very touristy – but so what! 10 Euros exchanged hands and I hurried back to the hotel with my prize. “Look Jorge, we can now make this at home,” I cried happily.
Well, since then, we have done so MANY times, and today we bottled yet another batch.
Here’s our recipe:

Joanna & Jorge , tasting limoncello after our first meal in Florence, 2007

Peel the rind from 12 yellow lemons (limon italiano – available at Costco) Try not to have any of the pith attached … you want just the thin yellow part.

Put the peelings into a large glass jar and then add 1 – 1750 ml. bottle of Vodka (any brand will do but we also use “Kirkland”, the one available at Costco)

*If you can get your hands on some grappa, that will be even better*
Close the jar tightly, and store it in a dark place for 2 months (we put ours on a shelf in the clothes closet)
When you finally bring the jar into the light, you’ll see that the vodka has turned bright yellow. It is time to bottle…

Boil 1 ½ kilos of sugar with 1 ½ litres of water, until the mixture is about to boil and the sugar is completely dissolved (this is called simple syrup) Allow it to completely cool…

Strain the vodka-lemon peel and set aside the peelings. Add 1.750 (1 3/4 litres) of the cooled syrup to the vodka, stir and then pour the dreamy liquid into 6 sterilized bottles. Cork them and store in the fridge until you wish to use them.
Now what to do with the vodka-infused peel…

Let the peelings dry, and then place them in a large frying pan and sprinkle with ½ cup of sugar. Place the skillet over medium heat and let the sugar caramelize (you need to lift and turn the peel while this is happening or it will burn) When the mixture has a golden brown color and you can smell the cooked sugar, remove the pan from the heat, and using two forks, separate the pieces of peel as best you can (they will be sticky) When they have cooled and dried, store them in a container with a tight lid. You can use this in any recipe that calls for candied citrus peel. This is the “not-at-all-secret” ingredient in my version of Chiles en Nogada.

Many of my friends now make Limoncello from this recipe and no one has felt disappointed… you won’t either.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

6 thoughts on “LIMONCELLO

  1. Try one litre of 90% alcohol and one litre of water with one kg of sugar, the rest is the same except it will only take 7 to 10 days to leach the flavour from the lemon peel. And you will get a much better product. The rest is all the same, I am italian and my mom and I used to make it all the times. You can also make cream di limoncello, substitute the water for two litres of milk and one and half kg of sugar,than put in the frizer. Enjoy. Fernanda


    1. Grazie mille… I am sure your recipe is excellent. Actually the recipe I have says to use grappa and to leave it on the lemon peel for just a week… I cannot get 90% alcohol here in Merida, so the Costco volka is my substitute, and because it is only 80 “proof” which means just 40% alcohol… I leave it a couple of months. I am sure your Limoncello is better, but mine is do-able here, and its not bad… I hope to meet you and give you a taste…


    1. Thank you Maggie… My birthday / Mothers Day combo was not what I am used to, but all in all a good time. I hope next year will be back to the former model… I hope you are doing well my friend. Much love, Joany


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