Making Limoncello

I just decided to try my hand at making limoncello in time for the holidays and figured I’d chronicle my adventure. This is why – Craig wants a lemon tart for his birthday instead of a cake because he doesn’t love cakes. I was at the restaurant supply store buying flank steak and saw that they had a bag of like 30 lemons. The bag of like 30 lemons was approximately $6, about what you’d pay for a bag of something like 6 at the grocery store. I can’t pass up a deal, and since I already have a jar of preserving lemons, I figured I’d do the next best thing with my score, limoncello!

11 lemons
2 750ml bottles of 151 proof vodka
1 quart glass jar or bottle
cheap vodka to fill
1 brita filter


remove the zest from the lemons. I’d normally use a microplane for this step, but I read online that taking larger chunks off of the lemons makes it A LOT easier to filter. That makes sense. I started with a sharp veggie peeler, but that ended up including too much pith (the white stuff… you want to avoid that at all costs, it has a bitter flavor that ruins things) so I switched to a very sharp paring knife.


This is not water in the brita.


You want to filter your booze 4 times apparently. I’ve never filtered cheap vodka before, so I couldn’t tell you whether it makes much difference, but mythbusters did it and a vodka aficionado was able to discern between how many times vodka had been filtered, and since the internet guide that I loosely based this recipe off said to filter it 4 times, and I have a costco pack of brita filters hanging out, I figured I’d give it a try. I don’t really trust the quality of a $16 bottle of 151 anyway.

Anyway, put the lemon zest in the jar/bottle, then pour in your 151 booze, then filter enough vodka to fill the rest of the bottle/jar.


The shitty jar that I bought at Cost Plus World Market apparently doesn’t seal very well against vodka, so I got a sheet of plastic wrap and folded it into quarters and put it between the lid and the rest of the jar to hopefully seal better. Anyway, put the jar away for about a month. In that time, the vodka should pull all of the essential oils from the lemon zest, and turn it into a freaky sad greyish/whitish color. The liquid should apparently turn yellow and bright and friendly. We’ll see.


The next step after letting it age for about a month is to make a strong simple syrup, strain the zest and finings out through a few coffee filters, mix, and let age for another month or so.

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