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Limoncello (Lemon Liqueur)

Keep a bottle in the freezer for friends and dinner guests. Limoncello in small bottles or Mason jars also makes a good Easter or Passover gift.


  • 15 fresh, thick-skinned lemons (large are preferred) plus a few lemon leaves
  • 1 (4-quart) Mason jar or similar size jug
  • 1/2 gallon 100-proof vodka
  • 5 cups bottled spring water
  • 3 to 5 cups granulated sugar

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  1. Scrub the lemons and leaves in warm, soapy water. Pat them dry and use a vegetable peeler or zesting tool to remove the yellow zest from each lemon, being careful to separate the white pith from the zest. (Pith will make the limoncello taste bitter.)
  2. Place all the zest in the Mason jar, along with a few lemon leaves.
  3. Add the vodka and seal the jar. Allow the jar to rest for 20 days in a cool, dark place, shaking it every 2 days to move the ingredients.
  4. After 20 days, open the jar.
  5. In a pan over medium heat, combine the spring water with 3 to 5 cups of sugar. The amount depends on your personal taste. If you like sweet liqueurs, use 5 cups. If you like them less sweet, 3 or 4 will be adequate. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool, then pour it into the vodka jar. Allow the jar to rest for another 20 days in a cool, dark place, shaking it every 2 days to mix the ingredients. It is normal for the limoncello to take on a somewhat cloudy appearance.
  6. After 20 days, slowly pour the mixture into a very large bowl, using a cheesecloth to strain the lemon zest and leaves. Discard the zest and leaves, and transfer the limoncello back into the jar or into several smaller bottles. Seal all the containers tightly.
  7. While the limoncello does not need to be stored in the refrigerator, it is best to chill it before drinking. Since the mixture is about 50-proof, placing it in the freezer will not cause it to solidify.

Source: Rosamaria Restiani - The Arizona Republic, February 12, 2003