How to make limocello

How To Make Limoncello

How to make limoncello – for me it is to make a molecular cocktail recipe kit, for you it might just be for the limoncello.

I’ve just started renting a hose with a lemon tree and I’m working on some new recipes for some for some molecular mixology kits. Life has given me lemons, so I am going to try my best to make some limoncello.

This is the first stage and after this then I will endeavour to turn the limocello into bubbles using a reverse spherification technique. The molecularisation of this recipe might fail if the acidity of the limoncello is too great, but my hope is that because I will be using the peel of the lemon, rather than the juice it might not be as acidic as it would otherwise be. This may well be wishful thinking, but then again it might work a treat. It will always be possible to use an acidity regulator to buffer the limoncello but because the recipe is going to be for a kit, rather than just for my use then I don’t want to over complicate it, also the obvious choice for the acidity regulator would be sodium citrate (a relatively simple and cheap ingredient) and sodium citrate will also act as a calcium sequestrant and could interfere with the calcium ions (from the calcium lactate) that are needed to “cook” the sodium alginate. I do not wish to blind you with the science, but to summarise… if the limoncello does not make spheres (or reverse spheres) simply by the standard techniques, and the standard ingredients of calcium lactate and sodium alginate, then I will simply give it up and enjoy a glass of liqueir for myself on the veranda as I overlook the trees!

How to make lemoncello

Limoncello Recipe

The ingredients could hardly be simpler only four of them…

  • 8 lemons

  • 1000ml Alcohol (anything colourless but I’ll use vodka)

  • 800g sugar (unbleached)

  • 1000ml water

The ingredients are important because there are so few of them you should get it right.

Lemons, need to be unwaxed, mine are straight off the tree but in a shop then buy organic lemons which are never waxed, also because you’re only using the peel then any sprays will be in higher concentrations.

Alcohol, this is not to give flavour(unless that is what you want) so the closest you can get the pure grain alcohol is ideal. Cheap vodka that has passed through a brita filter is a pretty good solution.

Sugar, you don’t want anything that is too overpowering but you do want some flavour. I use “raw” sugar which is often white sugar with a bit of molasses added back to it. That could be called a cheat, but it does the trick. There are merits in using plain, regular white castor sugar – namely it will not add any colour or turbidity to the limoncello, but I’m happy to sacrifice that for a bit of raw flavour.

Water, I’m going to use rainwater because later on, during the part where I try to make it into the molecular cocktail for the kit any calcium from the tap water may promote the setting of the alginate colloid to rapidly. So if you’re only making the limocello and not the full molecular bubble then don’t trouble yourself to much about the type of water.

How to make limocello
How to make limocello


Pretty simple stuff, but here it is…

  1. Peel the lemons using a potato peeler, try to get only the yellow and not any of the white. This is an almost impossible task but try your best. A good, sharp, new peeler is going to make it a lost easier.

  2. Add the lemon peel to a wide neck bottle, jar or carafe with a tight fitting top. Pour the alcohol over the top. Leave for a week at room temperature (or longer at a cooler temp)

  3. One week later, add the sugar to the water and heat to boiling then heat for 10 minutes. I am convinced that boiling sugar water (even for a short while) gives it a better flavour. Others have told me that this isn’t true and you only change the chemical makeup of sugar syrup by reducing the water content – which is not going to happen within the ten minutes of this boil.

  4. When everything has cooled, strain the lemons from the alcohol and mix with the syrup.

  5. Be patient, leave the limocello for two weeks for all of the flavours to mellow together – this makes the big difference in flavour.

I suspect you will all now be drinking your fine and fresh lemon liqueur but if you have the patience to hold a bit back then, you’ll be able to join me for the experiment of turning the limoncello into lemon bubbles – the gastronomy kit will still need a name… how about molecular-cello? (nope that is a robotic musical instrument) limonology? Any suggestions welcome but at the moment the molecular gastronomy kit is nameless.