Limoncello, the delicious after-dinner digestif, is really easy to make. In Italy we can buy 95% alcohol specifically to make liqueurs, but this isn’t an option in the UK so just use the strongest vodka you can find. We use our own, unwaxed lemons. As always, sterilise your clean jars and bottles by putting them in the dishwasher for a cycle or by giving them 10 minutes in the oven at 180°C. This makes a lovely Christmas present. 

  • 5 unwaxed lemons
  • 1l 50% ABV vodka
  • 1kg caster sugar (use white sugar, not unrefined)
  • 1l water
  • a large 1l airtight jar to store the steeping alcohol 

Makes 2 litres

Firstly, remove the zest from the lemons with a sharp knife, taking care not to include the bitter white pith. Drop the zest into the sterilised storage jar, then pour over the alcohol, seal and place in a cupboard. If you remember, you can shake it gently every few days. I never do. It will be ready in about three weeks, but longer is fine.

Once your lemon zest has steeped, make the syrup. Put the sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat and bring just to the boil, but don’t let it brown at all. It will thicken up to syrup with a few minutes of simmering. Once thickened, leave the syrup to cool.

Strain the alcohol using a sieve, and add it to the syrup. Decant the mixture into sterilised bottles and it’s ready. Once you have made your own, you’ll never buy it again.

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