Sfumato lemons are a famous variety of fruit which grow in the microclimate along the Amalfi Coast. Lemons are not indigenous to Italy but brought by the Arabs whom saw the perfect volcanic soil and temperatures for growing. Soon Italians saw their value and started planting and cultivating the prized lemon trees on terraced lands from Capri to Vietri. For centuries, the unique geography of the Amalfi coast has allowed these lemon trees to thrive and be incorporated into every aspect of local cuisine. From the intense flavor of lemon zest in pasta and main courses to the sponge cake desserts steeped in limoncello and topped with whipped lemon cream, these lemons are never out of season.
In the 14th century, monks living in monasteries along the Amalfi Coast recognized the importance of lemons and began to use them for medicinal reasons. They used them to make elixirs for healing and baking. Their recipes endured, and today they are used not only for health and culinary purposes but also as the main ingredient of limoncello, a lemon liqueur obtained from an infusion of lemon peel. We can thank the monks for discovering the liqueur and raise our glasses to toast. Here is our version of limoncello. Salute!
To begin, you need a large glass jar with a lid.
Wash the lemons, pat them dry and remove the zest. A vegetable peeler does the job best; it gives you long wide strips of zest with hardly any of the bitter white pith. If you get some of the pith with the zest, carefully scrape it away with the tip of a knife.
Fill the jar with the alcohol and, as you remove the zest, add it to the jar.
Mix the ingredients, cover the jar and store it. Now all you need to do is wait.
After at least 7 days, combine the sugar and the water in a saucepan.
Bring it to a boil and cook until thickened, about five minutes.
Let the syrup cool then add it to the limoncello mixture.
Then simply strain the limoncello into bottles and discard the lemon zest.
Keep the bottles in the freezer so it is icy cold until you are ready to drink it.