During a recent trip to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, I made a stop on the Amalfi drive to purchase fresh lemons at a roadside stand. I had read somewhere that lemons from the Sorrento/Amalfi area were the best. With that in mind, I had a notion to make a batch of limoncello at home!
The first photo is the stand I bought the lemons at, on the Amalfi Drive not far before reaching Positano. The man there told me the smaller of the two kinds of lemons you see there are the best for limoncello. Yes, those other lemons are huge, aren't they? Francesco, our guide for the day, explained that those big lemons are grown as a joke for Americans. He says that Americans always say that they have the biggest everything- bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger yards. So, now Sorrento has the biggest lemons!
My husband Mike and I had taken a limoncello making class back in Little Italy, in Baltimore. The recipe we used is wonderful, but called for 100 proof Vodka, which we have been unable to find here. With a little internet research, I located another recipe, which instead used Everclear alcohol and lemons straight from Sorrento!!! The alcohol we could obtain here, we decided to give this new recipe a go. It's very similar to the one we had used.
First, you wash, and peel the lemons, being careful only to use the yellow portion of the peel, not the white. Put the peels and 1 liter of alcohol into a tightly closed glass container. Leave this to brew for 8 days, shaking the container every once in awhile.
At the end of the 8 days, drain the liquid from the lemon peels, and discard the peels. Make a simple syrup (6 1/2 cups of sugar, 6 1/3 cups of water). Let the simple syrup cool, then mix together with the alcohol, and bottle. Store the limoncello in the refridgerator. (Note: Other recipes indicate you need to now brew this mixture in the fridge for up to 3 weeks before drinking, but this new recipe says you can skip that part and drink immediately).
Here's our completed batch of limoncello, ready to go in the fridge. Between the lemons straight from Sorrento and the Everclear alcohol, this is some of the best limoncello we've ever tasted!! Definitely, this was well worth the trouble of hauling the lemons all the way back home, and I think there is a "Return to Sorrento" in my future!