Moonshine Limoncello

My parents traveled far and wide to spend Father’s day with me this year, and they packed a few bottles of sunshine to share. My father proceeded to get the entire family gleefully liquored up on Moonshine Limoncello, his newest obsession. The mania spread like wild fire and by day three a plethora of aunts and cousins were spending hours in the kitchen with him making their own jars of liquid sun. Tables were piled high with enormous bags of lemons, sugar, a pallet of mason jars, and numerous bottles of vodka.

Now that’s a family get together. 

In my father’s words this recipe is super simple: two parts moonshine, one part sunshine. If you can’t score a bottle of moonshine (the legal term is Everclear) go the traditional route by using good ole vodka. There are only a handful of important tips to follow in order to make this delicious after dinner drink. If you follow this recipe exactly you will have a perfect bottle every time. Let it sit for a longer period of time if desired, but it is all about flavor and clarity so there really is no need to have it sit for longer than four days.

Moonshine Limoncello
(Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)
Total time: 5 days
Prep time: 30 minutes with 10 minutes cooking
Makes one bottle

Ingredients:
15 lemons, zested (avoiding the white pith)
1 bottle (750ml) of Everclear (190 proof grain alcohol)
2 ½ cups water
2 cups organic white cane sugar (resist the urge to use sugar in the raw as it is brown and will change the clarity)

Day One:
Using a citrus zester (or vegetable peeler), zest only the yellow part of the peel (avoid the white pith at all costs & save the juice for lemonade).  Place the lemon zest in a large sealable pitcher. Pour the Everclear over the zest and seal. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 4 days. It can sit for up to 60 days if desired.

Day Four:
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Add the simple syrup to the lemon zest and Everclear mixture, stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature over night.

Day Five:
Strain the limoncello through a fine mesh strainer. Pour in to "pretty" sealable bottles and store them in the freezer (for the chill factor). Serve in chilled apéritif glasses or over ice with a splash of pure cranberry juice for a perfect summer cocktail.

32 comments:

  1. Is it bad that I got excited when I read moonshine? LOL!

    Looks like your Father's Day was fabulous. :)

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  2. This is quickly going to become a family tradition. Oh, wait it already is ;)

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    Replies
    1. Who needs garage meatballs when we have moonshine limoncello!

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  3. Wow, must taste great! Love the colour!

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  4. ...and even better if you stash your Limoncello in the freezer; especially on a hot summer evening!

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    1. Very good point! The colder, the better!

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  5. I remember having Limoncello on our honeymoon in Italy, when biking through Umbria. It was, in a word, amazing.

    Thanks for this one! (And for your comment and kind words today ... this was a tough one.)

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  6. Wow, I bet you all had a fabulous time, and I want some of this Limoncello. Do you only use the zest, no lemon juice? I can read, just making sure, LOL. Too cool.

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    1. Only the zest, no juice... you can save that for lemonade... :)

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  7. If ever I could drink (which I can't because I itch when I do), this would probably be the tipple for me. That must have been some family get together!

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  8. First I have to give props to a couple great sources. This guy has been online for long enough to have archived multiple "Family recipes" http://www.guntheranderson.com/liqueurs/flavors.htm#Limoncello ...and this site is exactly as described http://limoncelloquest.com/

    You can read Limoncello's history and details on Wikipedia, but the recipe couldn't be simpler, lemon zest, alcohol, and simple syrup. Just like your mother's spaghetti sauce ...just some tomato sauce and spices, right? Hah! Limoncello is similarly made slightly different by every Italian family.

    For this batch we used 100 proof Vodka (50% alcohol) Most hard liquor is 40% (80 proof), so using 100 proof Vodka allows adding the necessary water+sugar for sweetening and having your result be just over 30% alcohol. To avoid disaster try this tip: After the zest has rendered and been strained, set some un-sweetened filtered concentrate aside. If you try the main batch and it is too sweet, this will allow you to add that un-sweetened concentrate, adjusting it to your preference. Like Mamma's marinara ...too much basil? add some more tomatoes.

    After reading the links above you may be wondering about letting it sit for months to extract and even more months to age ...engh. If you are in a hurry like us, use more lemons. They may not fully extract but all you need is the right concentration of lemon oils, and more zest will deliver that faster. However, I must admit my best batch was aged the longest. Like wine, Limoncello can develop some complexities with varied handling. One recipe calls for adding several lemon leaves as the secret ingredient. Me? Well my lemons overlooked the Meat section of the Costco and not the Mediterranean, and Costco was fresh out of lemon leaves.

    While super, straight from the freezer, Limoncello makes a great mixed drink. Add some cranberry juice, or Sun Tea over ice. More Googling! You will feel a lot less guilty making it into mixed drinks because you did not pay the $35 a bottle commonly seen at retail for imported Limoncello! Just in time for Summer ~ Enjoy

    PoPz

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  9. The word "everclear" makes me shudder, but what an amazing-looking limoncello. I've only seen it made from vodka before!

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    1. Technically speaking Everclear may produce the best result in terms of final product taste. Being only about 1.5% water (as opposed to 50% water for 100 proof Vodka) makes Everclear toxic to drink straight and as explosively flammable as gasoline. However, with the right safety precautions, Everclear is so specifically solvent that it extracts only the oils from the lemon peel. The almost total absence of water affects what ends up in the resulting extract. Gallon for gallon Everclear is also cheaper. But I agree with you, the risks using Everclear outweigh the benefits, and that is why we used a nice quality 100 proof Vodka ...which only has the regular dangers of flammability, and loss of motor skills. The mason jars were for convenience and humor, and were empty when originally purchased ...seriously. Real "Moonshine" is unregulated in terms of alcohol % and purity, making recipe sharing difficult, the final product unsafe, oh and illegal ...still funny, great pic!

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  10. Wow - I never would have thought of this, but it sounds incredible! Will have to try making some for a party or something... sounds like it would be perfect in the hot weather!

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  11. I made limoncello a few days back and gave it to my book club as Christmas gifts...they were thrilled. I may have to do that again this year :)

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  12. "a few years back" not days...LOL

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  13. Something new for me but I do have high liking for anything with lemons.

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  14. You would think adding some lemon juice to your Limoncello would be a good idea, but the mind-blowing smoothness of this drink comes from the lack of lemon's sourness (the juice) and the pure extract of only what you know as the great smell of lemons. Zesting lemons makes your whole kitchen smell great, and if you spill any before the sugar has been added (next week) it's also a great *cleaner* LOL ...don't use on any painted surfaces. The butcher block loved the pure lemon oil extract as did my sister's sunglasses, which she said got especially clean after wiping off some spilled un-sweetened Limoncello

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  15. Awesome! Bookmarked this recipe to try out this summer.

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  16. Now this is the way to get a party started!

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  17. This sounds pretty amazing, and I imagine it is knock your socks off with that everclear included ;)! That said, I would love a large drink made with it :)!

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  18. Glad to know that you had a wonderful family time last Father's Day!
    Moonshine Limoncello is something I haven't tried...but it sure sounds and looks so good!

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  19. Very nice! Love those frosted jars.

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  20. What a gorgeous, refreshing summer drink!

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  21. That sounds WAY more fun than when my family gets together!!

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  22. I love to have some of that-)) Summer drink looks very refreshing-))) You have a good day!

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  23. We enjoyed some lemoncello cocktails last night with your Mom and Dad. I'm hooked!

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  24. We enjoyed lemoncello cocktails with your Mom and Dad last night! I'm totally hooked!

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  25. I don't drink but I'd make an exception for this. Please invite me next time your folks visit.

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  26. I love every. single. thing. about this.

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