This is possibly the longest time I have spent preparing a post. Over the past three weeks, I have been creating my own homemade lemoncello, a traditional Italian lemon liquor. The idea came from a fellow Trot Line writer who tweeted out a recipe for a homemade Christmas treat. After spending a couple of months in Italy, my interest eventually took off with the idea of trying it out for myself.
Lemoncello is a delicious Italian lemon liquor. I was first introduced to it in a small Tuscan town called Montepulciano. The drink is served cold, neat, and in a sipping glass. It is fairly sweet but it packs a punch, so it’s best to drink slowly with sips.
The recipe seemed easy enough to follow, so I took the challenge. Here is how it went:
If you follow the recipe precisely, you should spend around $10 a bottle (750ml.) I, however, spent around $30 per a bottle due to poor planning.
Making Homemade Lemoncello – The Basics
First, check out the recipe from Serious Eats.
Here is what I bought to prepare 3 bottles of lemoncello:
- 30 lemons
- A handle of Everclear grain alcohol (I reckon 190 proof makes it close to shine… So it’s adds a southern kick)
- 3 empty bottles from the Container Store.
- A bag of natural sugar
- 1 gallon of spring water
The most painstaking part of the entire process was zesting 30 lemons. Now, I’m not the best zester ever, but it seemed as if it took forever to make it through 30 lemons. I have been told that peeling the lemons would achieve the same goal as zesting them, but cut down the prep time significantly. If I could do it all over again, I would probably try peeling at least one batch (10) of the lemons to compare the taste.
Once you are finished zesting/peeling the lemons, you add the grain alcohol. I used Everclear 190 proof, but the recipe calls for 151. I’m used to drinking my bourbon neat, so the higher proof never bothered me. It might bother you, so try to find the 151 or run vodka through a Brita filter first. After adding the grain alcohol, I let it sit for two weeks in the bottle to infuse the lemon flavor into the alcohol.
After two weeks of letting the zest infuse with the alcohol, I brewed up some homemade simple syrup as well. The simple syrup was easy to make and took no time at all. I added the simple syrup to the bottles with zest and let them sit for 24 hours.
Once the mixture has been sitting for 24 hours, I filtered out the zest into the final bottles. Two bottles I filtered twice, and one bottle I filtered once. I filtered the zest using a funnel and coffee filters. It is absolutely necessary for you to filter the lemoncello twice, otherwise you are left with some lemon residue.
It is always extremely gratifying to create your own product. Whether you are brewing beer, distilling bourbon, or making your own homemade lemoncello, you are going to appreciate it and take pride in what you have created. Would I do it again? Maybe not. The lemon zesting was a major pain, and after buying the wrong amount of ingredients, I spent around $30 per bottle. Decent lemoncello imported from Italy will generally run you around $25. That said, I think that everyone should attempt to create their own brew or liquor at least once in their life.
The final product was delicious.
Try something new this season and come home to a relaxing drink that you made yourself.