12 Days of Healthy Holiday Gifts: DIY Limoncello

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When life gives you lemons—make Limoncello!  This classic Italian liqueur is mainly produced in southern Italy and is traditionally served as a sweet after-dinner digestif.

Made from pure grain alcohol or sometimes vodka, this sweet beverage has a powerful kick, but a smooth flavor. This Christmas, I’m giving my friends small individual bottles of Limoncello that I’ve had fermenting since earlier this fall. It only takes one month to make, but the longer it sits the smoother it gets!

Try this smooth spirit as a holiday gift, or make some to bring in the New Year.

How To Make Limoncello

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the

lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Take care to avoid peeling the white pith, as it can give your Limoncello a bitter taste. I found that the larger the strips, the easier they were to remove in the later steps!

Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature. (When I took these pictures I was making a test batch and only used half of the recipe. For the full recipe I used a clean glass pickle jar.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

I found these bottles at a craft store in town, but feel free to be creative — corked bottles can give your limoncello gift an authentic Italian look.

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