My friend, Karen, reminded me that it's time to make the Limoncello. It just wouldn't be Christmas without Santa's "Ho-ho-ho," and a red-ribboned bottle of my homemade spirit under her tree. After the presents are purchased, wrapped, and opened; the holiday dinners planned, prepared, and eaten; it's always nice to sit back, relax, and sip a freezing cold cordial glass of sinfully soothing Limoncello.
I should point out that I'm discussing Christmas in October, since when making this liqueur, the lemon peels need ample time to steep, infusing their flavor and color into the alcohol.
I've used 100-proof vodka in the past for my homemade liqueurs and have had good results, though the purists say one should only use the 151-proof grain alcohol, known most commonly as Everclear. There's also a 190-proof, but it's not available for purchase in every state because of the high alcohol content. Even the 151-proof has a limit on its availablity in certain states.
You'll need one or two (if doubling the recipe) large, glass jars for the initial resting period; then individual gift-giving bottles which should be stored in the freezer for optimal flavor of the Limoncello.
16-18 thick-skinned lemons
1.75 ltr. bottle of 100-proof vodka (Do not use less than 100-proof)
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
Wash and dry the lemons. Peel the lemons removing only the yellow skin, not the white pith, as this will produce a bitter liqueur.
Add half of the bottle of vodka to a large, glass jar; add all of the lemon peels. Cover the jar and let it sit at room temperature for at least two weeks, and up to one month. The longer, the better, as the flavor will intensify.
After the initial resting period, combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Heat and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool, then add to the lemon/vodka mixture. Add the remainder of the vodka; stir. Cover and let the mixture rest for an additional two to four weeks. Again, longer is better.
Strain the Limoncello, discarding the lemon peels, and pour into individual bottles. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
If giving Limoncello as a gift, it's nice to print out the recipe, tie around the neck of the bottle with a pretty ribbon, and you can even zest a few lemon spirals to include as a decoration. I also make labels for the bottles.