Italy’s aromatic 'Nostrano lemons' were nowhere to be found.
However, I was determined to make a light, LEMON scented liquor.

As soon as I got hold of very fragrant, thick-skinned lemons...
I was ready for my experiment to bring a...
light LIMONCELLO to life.

Here’s a full circle life moment between...
Me and Limoncello:

Naiveté played a huge role in my acquaintance with...
this enchantingly sweet and yet powerful tasting liquor.

Many years ago, a lovely guest from San Luis Obispo, California had decided to stay at my Bed and Breakfast.  I had wondered how she came to know about my place and what the attraction was over the plethora of accommodations in Montreal?
Of course, I did have a very lovely welcoming home and one of the very best gourmet breakfasts in town ;o)   However, not withstanding the was mainly because she just loved Italians.  She had a desire to live within our hospitable aura.  She was a well travelled lady who was looking to somewhat re-live a few memories of when she was amongst Italians...especially the captivating Amalfi coast.

One morning, I had made her a meal that involved lemons.  To my recollection, it must have been one of many creative dishes with citrus custard along with Italian sponge cake and certainly lots of fruits.  To say the least, she was incredibly pleased...and the lemon based meal led her to ask me if I loved Limoncello as much as she did?  A little taken by surprise, I remember giving her a mild quizzical look.  Thankfully she went on to rave about this powerful, fragrant liquid.  Alright then, this had been a good clue.  Something with lemons and you could drink it...hmmm??? Then she mentioned the relation to the extremely fired up 'Grappa' drink.  Now, I was really becoming desperate for more clues. Before, I soon made a fool of myself...I needed to actually figure out what she seemed to think I knew a lot about!?!

By now, you can understand that I was clueless about...
a drink that apparently was an iconic Italian liquor.

Breakfast time had passed with several topics of conversation.  I gave her a few touristy pointers and the heads up on the traps to avoid while touring and enjoying our lovely city. She went on her merry way and I was left there standing with misplaced pride. What the heck was that? Why did an American know more than I did about an apparently unforgettable liquor?

This Italian drink was created during the very early 1900s...
ensuring that many lemon trees were put to great use.

The initially concocted gold liquid was probably formulated ...
in someone's kitchen on the small Island Azzurra.

However, most do believe that Limoncello was created and...
offered expansively on the coastal town of Sorrento on the Amalfi coast.

If descriptive tales and legends about Limoncello pique your interest...
I suggest you read more here.

So, why didn't I fess up and let her know that just because I was Italian didn't mean I was my nationality's culinary encyclopedia.  In hindsight, truth be told...I was too embarrassed to admit of not being the Italian-all-knowledgeable one.  Thankfully, I'm so much wiser now. ;o)  Life is much simpler this way.

Now, for anyone that just finished reading my last post on the iconic Italian dessert: 'Caprese' chocolate were informed of the little while I had spent on this beautiful part of Italy.
Therefore, you may be wondering, that I surely would have met with the Limoncello or at the very least had heard of it??? 
Well, the sad truth is that the very first time I had heard the word 'Limoncello' uttered...was actually through my very enthusiastic Italian loving BnB guest.  Let me tell you...she really had 'La dolce vita' rockin.  She was a fabulous guest who single-handedly awakened something in me that needed a small jolt.  Wherever you are, a belated "Grazie Mille".  

To think that I thought I had such sophisticated knowledge of most Italian classics.  This was a naive experience that had marked me for life.  In a somewhat indirect way, it had brought my (at the time) snobby self down a few notches.  This eventually paid big dividends going forward ;o)  I'm a changed person ;o)

This little occurrence only begged the question:
What did I really experience while travelling on the Amalfi coast?
I must have been in some sort of bubble not to have discovered this magically flavoured liquor.
I spent most of my time in Positano and Sorrento...and I didn't ever get a whiff of it!?!

Therefore, moving more shot in the arm was coming...a good one this time and an actual taste of Limoncello was arriving at my doorstep.
Depending on one's viewpoint, coincidentally or not, my Brother was coming back from an extended stay in Italy and had generously brought back two enticing gifts.  One was, a stunning looking bottle of...yes, you guessed it...Limoncello.  How weird was that?  It suddenly felt like a somewhat 'karmic' moment.  Then out of the bag he also pulls out a jar of the authentically infused Limoncello Baba cakes (Baba alla Crema di Limoni) soaking in this gold liquor.  Wow, this was too much.  I guess, even for a person like me who is not strong on drinking liquor...I found myself rushing for three glasses until my Brother suddenly halted me and asked me what my rush was?  After he had a good chuckle over my naive ignorance on this Italian classic...he tells me that I should be a little more patient.   He informs me that the best way to enjoy this drink was by having the bottle sit in the freezer for a while.  I had, what you could imagine...the "You've got to be kidding" look about me.  Oh, well, what were a few hours more...the night was young.

At this point, I started feeling like an addict...waiting for my next hit.  Wow, I never thought I could get like this.  If only my BnB guest could have possibly known what she had started.
We all had a great supper and my homemade dessert was now exchanged to the Limoncello Babas with a side of French vanilla ice-cream.  After my first bite, it was like..."Oh did I miss having these"?  Admittedly, through the sweetness, the alcohol did remain quite significant, however, I was handling it quite well...actually maybe too well.  Me liked it a lot. LOL.

Part two...our 'digestivo' was waiting to be served out of the freezer. Was I pushing it? Was my liver going to pay me back for my curiosity?  Oh, what the heck...what's a tiny reasonable glass going to hurt?  What it harmed were my little nose hairs and the tingling burn in my oesophagus.  I couldn't get over how strong it was!  At that point, I decided to take a better look at the bottle and realized that the alcohol percentage was through the roof.  Only then, did I re-call the comment my guest had made about the strong Italian 'Grappa' similarity...hmmm...Me finally got that too.
After the initial shock...I realized, how without knowing glass had quickly achieved the polished look ;o)  Throughout the rest of that summer, the bottle didn't last long either.

Unfortunately, it was years later that I had a taste of another great tasting liquid gold again.
This time, a homemade version from an innkeeper on the French Riviera.
She makes this all the time from her backyard lemon trees and...
had kindly offered us a glass after a memorable evening meal.
It’s not for nothing that the most popular carnival-like...
Lemon festival (FĂȘte du Citron)...
takes place every February in Menton, when mature lemons are abound.
Did you actually think there couldn't be more to my full circle moment?
Hence...a re-cap:
First, I knew nothing about this lemon liquor...
then I tasted it...
and now I was going to get a well kept family Limoncello recipe.
After having heard everything I just shared with you...
the innkeeper took pity on me...
passed along her amazingly ratio balanced recipe and wished me luck.

Therefore, I will finally share with EXPERIMENT based on her recipe.
I cut the initial amount of SUGAR and greatly on the ALCOHOL percentage.
There was no way I could have a 90-150% proof liquor in my house again.

Although this recipe is very simple with very few ingredients...
you’ll need to exercise patience to realize the finished product.
It was well worth the wait.

Also keep in mind that most commercially made products...
are laced with additives and coloring agents.
You are certainly better served by making your homemade concoction.

I also decided to experiment with a smaller quantity than most people usually make.
This was perfect compromise for me.
If tweaking was needed...I wasn’t going to be stuck with disappointing quantity results.

It's my pleasure to announce...
a very succeeded 45 day experiment:

yields about 1.14L / about 37oz.

HERE for PRINTER version

(Metric / American measures)

Lemon Base:
. 6 large lemons (very aromatic)
. 500ml (2 cups) Vodka (40% proof alcohol)
Sweet Syrup:
. 330g (1-1/2 cups) granulated sugar
. 500ml (2 cups) water

. Jumbo, glass jar with tight seal
. sharp knife or vegetable peeler
. filter funnel
. cheesecloth
. Jumbo glass bottle and/or mason jars

1. First WASH LEMONS: soak the lemons in a large bowl filled with water, a generous splash of white vinegar as well as a generous shaking of salt.  Carefully wash and scrub any residues from the lemons.  Rinse them with cold water and dry thoroughly. 
Lemon base:
2. With a very sharp vegetable peeler or knife, VERY carefully peel the lemons by making sure NOT to have the bitter white ‘pith’ of the peel attached.  Place all peels into a sterilized  JUMBO glass jar. 

3. Pour the vodka over the lemon peels and seal tightly.  Place the jar in a cool, dark place for 30 days and making sure to give it a gentle shake every couple of days.

4...Then, after the 30 day period:
Sweet Syrup:. In a medium-sized saucepan mix both the sugar and water. Heat on MEDIUM-HIGH and let it reach to a barely boiling point (about 6 minutes).  Immediately remove syrup from the heat and have it cool completely. 
. Once the syrup is completely cooled, pour the whole thing onto the lemon peels steeping in vodka.  This time, allow to infuse another 15 days...and this time place the jar in the refrigerator.

5...Then, after the next 15 day period:
. Through a doubled cheese cloth and funnel filter, pass the liquid and discard the lemon peels.  . Pour the Limoncello into your chosen sterilized bottle(s).   Store in the refrigerator.  
Place the glasses in the freezer 5 minutes or so before pouring the Limoncello into the very cold glasses.  You'll be pleased you did that little extra step before showing off your homemade liquid gold ;o)

After ‘Campari’...the LIMONCELLO has become Italy's most popular drink.
This unique, incomparable digestive liquor is very versatile.

I was so pleased with my very light-hearted alcohol experiment.
I am now convinced that this is definitely the future wave of my citrus based alcohol infused liquors.

Along the way, I will certainly share a few recipes that were created by highlighting this unique flavoured liquor.

In the meantime, this palate cleansing refreshment can be enjoyed by itself or mixed with Champagne or Prosecco for a unique ‘aperitivo‘.  Tonic or seltzer water can also be added for a lighter cocktail.

Personally, I enjoy incorporating it into many...
savoury dishes as well as several desserts. 
An easy fix for a real delightful dessert...
drizzle Limoncello on ice cream, on sponge cake...or both ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ...???... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new to the'll thank me later. 

Here's a recipe that may interest you: