Ahhh summer! It’s the perfect time of year for picnics, barbeques and sipping cocktails on a patio with friends and family. One of my favourite after dinner sippers is Lemoncello, an Italian liqueur (Limoncello in Italian). I’ve enjoyed drinking Lemoncello for years at home, but while on a trip to Italy I learned that many families make their own based on traditional family recipes. As a chef and lover of all things lemon, this was an exciting discovery for me! When I returned home to Toronto I was on a quest to find an authentic Italian recipe for Lemoncello so I could make my own.
My friend Maria, who knew about my love for this liquid gold, contacted her cousin in Abruzzo to ask her for their family recipe. She translated it from Italian to English as my Italian is a little rusty. Maria has graciously allowed me to share the recipe in my blog this week. The following is Maria’s cousin Marcella’s Limoncello recipe, however, I modified the amount of simple syrup as I prefer the Lemoncello more tart than sweet. You can add more syrup if you prefer it sweeter.
1 litre quadruple distilled vodka (Ukrainian vodka is
The peel of 10 lemons
2 cups of simple syrup (2 cups boiling water to 2 cups of white sugar)
Peel lemons. Put the lemon peel in a jug or container with the vodka. Stir or shake the mixture every day for 10 days. (I also like to speak softly to it with an Italian accent, of course) On the 10th day you’re ready to bottle the mixture. Make the simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water. Remove the peel from the acohol and discard the peel. Add the smple syrup to the alcohol. Bottle, chill, and enjoy.
After making my own Lemoncello I have discovered a multitude of uses for it. Of course it’s fantastic served ice cold on its own or on the rocks, but mix it with fruit juice, lemonade, or a seltzer and it becomes a refreshing cocktail. Add equal parts Lemoncello and your favourite hard liquor, garnish with berries or a piece of lemon peel to create an excellent martini.
Looking to elevate a butter sauce for chicken or fish? Adding a splash or Lemoncello will take it to the next level. I rarely eat dessert but not even I can resist ice cream or gelato covered in Lemoncello. Icings, cakes or custards can be kicked up a notch by substituting Lemoncello for part of the liquid. Lemoncello also aids in digestion, so apart from being versatile and delicious, it’s also good for you. At least that’s what I tell all of my friends as they’re inhaling a second helping of Lemoncello sorbet.
It’s the perfect summer refresher and now that you know how easy it is to make, Lemoncello could be the perfect hostess gift for that summer BBQ to which you’ve been invited. Break out the vodka, lemons and your Italian accent … then raise a glass
to celebrate your efforts – Cin, Cin!!
(Photos by Noelle Jenkinson)