When life gives you lemons...

11 August, 2012

... make Limoncello!

My lovely colleague Sonia recently moved into a new house, along with which came 2 large and overladen lemon trees. So she brought in a massive bag of the things to work to get rid of some.

Now while I do have a lemon tree it is quite young and probably has only around 10-15 ripe lemons at the moment, plus some green ones doing their thing. And as Sonia still had a generous bagful of lemons left over even when everyone had taken as many as they could use, I took home the rest.

I did this for two reasons; 1. who am I to deny a friend a helping hand, and 2. I've been waiting for ages for my tree to produce enough lemons to be able to make Limoncello!

I'll leave you to guess as to which reason motivated me more.

So I have been looking up online recipes for making Limoncello. They vary a bit, but it appears around 5-10 lemons per litre of flavourless alcohol (vodka seems to be the most common choice) is the way to go. All you need to do is cut off the rind, removing any white pith and infuse the peel in the alcohol for anywhere between 10 days to 3 months. Then you remove the pith and mix with sugar syrup until you reach your preferred level of sweetness, then bottle and store (ideally in the freezer waiting for a hot summer day to sip it from tiny glasses).


So I spent a morning peeling lemons. I started by cutting off the peel with a knife, and then cutting off the white pith, but after a few goes I resorted to the veg peeler and this worked much better.

What could possibly make this picture better?

Oh yes, there it is.

I went with the peel of 14 large lemons for 1.4L vodka. I purely went for the pictured brand of vodka because I liked the shape of the bottle and thought I could remove the lables and reuse them. Although I'm sure my Finnish friend Maarit would be adamant that it is superior vodka.

I have split the peels between 3 smaller bottles and I will do three tests, infusing the peels for 1 month, 2 months and 3 months to see if it makes any difference. Expect results in November... no I didn't plan this just so I would have an excuse to drink Limoncello. I don't need an excuse.

I think infusing them in milk bottles gives it a slightly wholesome look, don't you think?

It's only been 10 minutes, and they're already taking on a slightly yellow hue. Can't wait!

Thanks Sonia! I promise you will get first dibs on the finished product.

PS I have something planned for the leftover lemon insides... I can't let them go to waste after all.


  1. Oh great idea! Thanks for the recipe. Love to hear how you get on. I somehow like the idea of a wholesome milk bottle beginning to limoncello.

    1. I will be sure to do some limoncello updates! I just hope it all works out.

  2. Oh yum - great idea! I've been wanting to make limoncello for ages - I just need to raid mum & dad's tree....they'll be back from holiday next week so perfect timing.

    1. Yes, lemon trees are the plant that keeps on giving. I reckon one tree per extended family is about the right ratio...