Limoncello – ITALIAN summer cooler

featured in Bonnie’s Bites August 2005

Limoncello liquer is made from the giant lemons of Southern Italy, in the Campania region which includes Sorrento, Postano, Capri and Amalfi. The delicious drink is served as an apertivo or after dinner digestive. Lemon groves, with unique sweet lemons, fill the latticed hillsides and gardens. These amazing lemons grow to be the size of a melon, and only the lemon zest is used in the production of this delicate liquer that is a favorite summer drink. The oil in the zest produces the wonderful taste of Lemoncello. This recipe makes two quarts.

I was so happy to find this recipe because several years ago I was given a collection of Limoncello cups as a gift from an Italian ceramic producer who’s business is in the Amalfi area, and I had no idea what to do with them. Thanks to my friends at cooking-vacations I have a new summer beverage to experiment with.



* 2 pounds very fresh mottled green and yellow lemons, approximately
* 12 small to 8 large lemons.
* 1 quart grain alcohol
* 6 cups water
* 2 cups sugar


Peel the lemons with a sharp peeler. Use only the peel, and the the pith or it will be tart tasting.

Put lemon zest into a clean half-gallon jar with tight fitting lid. Pour alcohol inside. Let stand for one wweek in the sunlight, and shake the jar every day. When lemon zests are pale and crisp, yu have extracted all the oil. Strain the lemon flavored alcohol and discard the zest.

Continue by making a sugar syrup in a sauce pan by combining the water and suger. Stir over mediumheat until sugar is dissolved, and the syrup is clear. Do not boil, and let coll to room temperature. The Limoncello can be tasted immediately, but it is suggested it sit in a cool place for about a week. Serve it in tiny frosted Limoncello glasses or bowls that have been chilled in the freezer.