How to Make Limoncello, the Liquor of the Amalfi Coast

Food & Wine Naples and Pompeii Amalfi Coast

What is the origin of limoncello and how to make it

The limoncello liquor's history dates back probably several hundred years although it is hard to know for sure. There is also a very spirited debate about where the drink was first made. Various places in the surrounding of Naples claim to be the original birthplace of the recipe: Amalfi, Capri, Sorrento and Ischia.

While the discussion about the origins of limoncello creates a bitter dispute, everyone agrees on one thing: it is a perfect after-dinner drink, even more so on a hot summer night. The lemon flavored liquor has become one of the most consumed digestivo in Italy and during the last decades gained great popularity around the world, especially in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and many others.

Its fame comes also from the fact that is very easy to make limoncello at home. So here is how to make limoncello with our simple recipe, all you need is:
• Lemons: 6-10 depending on size (preferably organic)
• Tasteless grain alcohol: 1 bottle (750 ml, 90-100 proof)
• Sugar: between 1 and 2.5 cups

The preparation of limoncello is easy, just follow these steps:
1) Wash and clean the lemons
2) Peel-off the lemon zest (being careful of not taking the white pith off the fruit)
3) Put the zest in a jar together with the alcohol and close tightly
4) Let it rest in a cool and dark place for 2 to 4 weeks. If better if longer.
5) Boil some water (750 ml) and add the sugar until it melts completely. Let it cool-off
6) Add the sugared water to the lemon mix, stir well and place it again at rest for another 2-4 weeks.
7) Filter the liquid. You can use coffee filters. Repeat the filtering at least twice.
8) Bottle the limoncello, store it in the freezer and when it is cold enough you are ready to enjoy it!

The resulting limoncello should be around 30-35 % of alcohol. To make a "real" limoncello you should use femminello lemons from Sorrento or sfusato lemons from Amalfi. But don’t worry, you will be able to make a decent limoncello with any kind of lemons. Salute!

Thinking about limoncello makes you want to visit the Amalfi coast ? Take a look at our private excursions to Capri and Amalfi coast by private yacht or by limo.