Living in California I have access to all manner of superior citrus fruit.  My own Aunt and Uncle are two of the most amazing citrus farmers you’ll ever meet.  You’d think the combination of my Italy-madness and superior citrus fruit would mean I could churn out a decent Limoncello.  Apparently not.

There are a number of schools of thought regarding Limoncello.  Some people believe you can carefully peel the rind off the citrus fruit, exactingly avoiding the bitter white pith, and then macerate this in the neutral spirit of your choice.  Others believe you need to suspend the entire, untouched fruit over the spirit in a type of cheesecloth hammock.  I am experimenting with my grandmother’s Meyer Lemons and this method now… should take at least a few more weeks to understand how it is progressing.

Against the advice of any number of more experienced Liomoncello makers (and drinkers) I also attempted to macerated some halved Mexican limes in high- proof vodka as a base for my Lime version of a Limoncello liquor.  Mike Tadich, you warned me not to.  You told me the result would be bitter from the exposed pith.

I didn’t listen, and you were right.  

I found out this morning that those beautiful glass mason jars on my counter were actually harboring a foul, astringent mess.  Just the aroma could have told me this was wrong- a  tangy, key lime pie-type of curdled scent that could singe your eyebrows.

As  disappointed as I was to find my Lime Limoncello Experiment has failed, I will persist in chronicling my Limoncello Adventures until the perfect recipe is crafted.

To be continued…

About The Author

I love all things Italian: the beautiful country of Italia, the Italians themselves, the language, the food… and above all, I love Italian wine. The people I meet in my charmed life are fascinating, the wines are extraordinary. I needed a special place like this to write about them, and to remember them.

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12 Responses

  1. The Blissful Adventurer

    I have yet to ever taste a limoncello that was not cloyingly sweet and a bit like a less natural smelling Joy dish washing liquid. (and I have tasted many). There are so many wonderful elixirs from Italy that bring me enormous joy; limoncello has never been one of them.

    • Joanie Karapetian, Italian Wine Geek

      Agreed Mr. Housewright. Mike Tadich and I were discussing just this fact the other day- we are perpetually disappointed with Limoncellos in restaurants (here and in Italy). We want to make a version of Limoncello using the pulp of the lemon as well- something really balanced with good acidity. I also think we should explore adding herbal infusions- cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, lavender, sage…

  2. John Bonfiglio

    Giuliano Bugialli’s (my hero) recipe calls for sispending the lemons in cheese cloth over grain alcohol in the dark for several months. I have successfully used this technique many times but I change out the lemons after two months to really reinforce the flavore. If you use store bought lemons make sure you scrub them first, they have a wasx coating. Also, I use a 2:1 simple syrup (two parts sugar to one part water) so I don’t dilute the lemon flavor too much. Hope that helps.


      • John Bonfiglio

        I’d wait another 3 weeks. The liquid should turn yellow. Also, I believe smirnoff makes a higher proof vodka (blue label) I would use that its better for extraction.

  3. Jodi Seidenberg

    Sweetie, I LOVE the way you express yourself!! Your photos are the equivalent of food porn, I swear. :^) So, this Limoncello business…do you think you could pull it off with a heavy-hittin’ blackberry/raspberry mash up? Some of us are not citrus lovers but the berry stuff seriously blows our collective skirt all the way up. Whadya think?

      • Jodi Seidenberg

        BEAUTY! When it’s time for taste testing, you let me know!

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