I think everyone has one of these tucked away: a handwritten recipe, passed down from one generation to the next. They are usually a little hard to read, a little vague when it comes to directions, and a little magical.
If my family was Italian, I suspect this recipe for Limoncello would have come straight from my grandmother’s recipe box. We aren’t, so we had to get a little creative . On a recent trip to Italy my dad cornered a friend of a friend who happened to have his sister’s copy of their old family recipe. It’s as authentic as you can get - from Caserta near Naples - and is DELICIOUS. You have to be patient and plan ahead, this is not something you can whip up an hour before guests arrive for a party. But if you have a few weeks, a big jar, and a dozen lemons hanging around, this could be just the thing you’ll want to be able to pull out of the freezer after dinner with friends.
1L grain or pure alcohol
800ml white sugar
1.5L filtered water
12 lemon peels, removed with a vegetable peeler in long strips (NO PITH!)
Place the lemon peels in a large jar and cover with the pure alcohol. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and steep for at least a week. Remove the peels from the alcohol.
Add sugar and water to a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and reduce for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Add the cooled simple syrup to the lemon-infused alcohol. Transfer to smaller bottles and pop in the freezer.
This beautiful yellow liquor is delicious on a warm afternoon or evening sipped right out of the freezer. It is equally delicious added to champagne!