Accelerated Limoncello

There’s a new limoncello recipe in town, and it’s faster and easier than ever!

Last year when a friend gifted me dozens of fresh lemons from her tree, I offered to share some of my limoncello with her once it was done in a week or so. She asked if there was any way I could speed the process so her out-of-town visitors could try some. Since they were only in town for a couple days, I hit up the internet to see if I could make it faster without compromising the flavor. I came across a method to extract the flavor from the lemons more quickly than the traditional days-long process of soaking the peels in vodka, and it worked great!

P.S. You can use this technique with grapefruit, too!

Accelerated Limoncello

6 large lemons (approximately 180 grams of the peels)
1 cup sugar
2 cups vodka
1 cup water 

Peel the lemons very thinly with a vegetable peeler, keeping as little as possible of the white pith attached to the rind (too much pith can make the limoncello bitter).

Place the peeled rinds and the sugar into the bowl of a food processor (I use a 2-cup countertop model that works great).  

Pulse the sugar to the lemon peels several times until the peels turn into tiny chunks and everything is very well blended.

Transfer this sugar-coated lemon mixture into a bowl large enough to hold the 3 cups of liquid you’ll add later.

(If using hand-diced peels instead, mix them well with the sugar in a large bowl, gently smashing them all together with a spoon until very well blended.)  

I like to stir in just a drizzle (only a teaspoon or two) of lemon juice to this mixture: just enough to almost wet it all.

Cover this mixture and let it sit at room temperature for at least one hour – or even better, overnight. You can stir it occasionally if you think about it, but it’s fine if you don’t. While it sits, the sugar magically coaxes the essential oils from the peels, and that’s where all the lemony goodness comes from. 

(Pro tip: Now’s a good time to juice those peeled lemons – either freeze the juice or use it for something else delicious.) 

Once the sugar has extracted the oil from the lemons, the mixture will appear glossy but textured.  

Add the vodka and water to the bowl with the lemon-sugar concoction. You can just leave it in the bowl or pour it all into a lidded jar. Stir it well (or shake the jar) to mix it all together.

Let this sit, covered, at room temperature, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.  This may only take an hour or so, but I like to let it all meld together for 1 to 3 days, stirring at least once a day until it reaches the desired flavor.  

When it’s ready, pour the liquid into a bowl or pitcher through a strainer or sieve to remove the rinds, then store in a bottle in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve chilled and enjoy!  

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