When Life Hands You Lemons…

…you make Limoncello!

One of the first trees we planted in our yard when we purchased our house almost 30 years ago was a lemon tree. Although we’ve enjoyed its bounty since then, this was the first year I decided to try my hand at making the sweet, golden elixir called Limoncello.

Just about anything made with lemons gets a “yes, please” from me, but usually they are an ingredient of a savory dish or a dessert. In fact, one of my favorite dinners we’ve made included baked lemon chicken, a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette, and lemon pudding cakes baked in individual ramekins.


So, where was I?

Oh, yes, Limoncello.

I have had commercially made Limoncello before, but I never thought to make it myself until a friend gave us a bottle of her home-made brew. Not only was it tasty, but I was excited to learn that it is easy to make. In fact, the hardest part is allowing the lemon peels and vodka enough time to mingle and do their magic before decanting. 

Just four ingredients: lemons, vodka, sugar, and water.
Peel just the yellow part of the lemons.
Soak the lemon peels in vodka… watch it turn a lovely yellow.

If you’ve never tried it, Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur with a refreshing lemon flavor. It is traditionally served after dinner as it is thought to aid digestion (and, who am I to argue with sound medical advice?). It is typically kept in the freezer and served cold so it’s perfect for summer. It can also be used in dessert recipes, including a delicious-sounding Limoncello and Ricotta Almond Cake (thanks, Widow Badass) I plan to try.    

You can find a lot of recipes for Limoncello online, but they are all pretty much the same: organic lemons, vodka, sugar, and water. Recommended vodka proofs vary (most recipes suggest higher proofs), as does the time to infuse the lemon peels in the vodka (as little as four days to as much as three weeks) before mixing with the syrup. The only recommendation I have after making my first batch is: don’t buy the Costco-sized bottle of vodka (1.75 liters vs. the more normal size of 1 liter). I now have so much limoncello that not only will we be enjoying it all summer, but we’ll giving a few bottles away to friends. Not a bad problem to have.  

Bottles ordered from Amazon… label designed by moi. Cheers!

So, What’s on Your Plate (or, in this case, your glass)? Join Donna and Deb for their monthly blog challenge. Link your own food-related post or just read what others have shared.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

129 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lemons…”

  1. I’ll be right over. You do have a bit left over, right? I’m with you, anything “lemon” is delicious tome. I’d love your lemon chicken recipe, by the way. And your lemon pudding cake, and your…. oh never mind. Limoncello is a delightful drink for the summer, or fall, winter, spring. 🙂 You make it sound easy to create. Or… I could just drop by. 🙂

  2. I read this post earlier this month but somehow meandered back – and glad I did because your lemon Photos are sugar celebration of the lemon!
    I just had a glass of lemon and baking soda water and it is amazing for grounding the body!
    Not nearly as tasty as your drink here….
    But so good

  3. Hi Janis, This was a fun read as I’m such a novice with such things. Someone gave my wife a commercial bottle of lemoncello and I had no idea what it was. I did think it tasty when I tried it and wondered how popular it was – well because lemons. . . . I doubt I would have the patience you have for making it – that’s a long soaking time. Thanks for the story behind the label.

    1. Some of the recipes claim that the taste isn’t much different between a 4-day “brew” and three weeks. Since it was my first batch – but probably not my last – batch, I thought I’d play it safe. It was well worth the wait 🙂

  4. Hi Janis,

    I tried store bought Limoncello for the first time last year. It tasted somewhat off and chemically. I am a huge fan of lemons, and I am curious to see how you make this recipe. I have bookmarked your post and I may give it a try this Summer. Thank you! 💕

    1. Hi Erica. If you do, I hope you let me know how it turns out. I’m thinking the store bought brew might have had something it it besides lemons, vodka, water and sugar. There are a lot of recipes out there, but they are all very similar and contain only those ingredients. Good luck!

  5. In Europe, many restaurants would offer this great after dinner as a thank you to diners they enjoyed. So cordial!

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