Limoncello bottled

Limoncello bottled

It would be such a shame for any of the produce from our wonderful lemon trees go to waste so I had to make the ultimate sacrifice and come up with something else to do with my crop – something very alcoholic and very yummy – Limoncello!

I was first introduced to limoncello by Sarah who bought me a bottle for Christmas. I had never tasted it before so I had to make the ultimate sacrifice and do lots of taste testing and it was just to my taste – lemony, sweet and very alcoholic.

With this years harvest and my impending extended holiday I had to find things to so with the bumper lemon crop so here is my recipe – it is very good, so good that I am going to make a version with Tangellos.

A few points that made sense from my research:

You only use the zest. It is very important not to get any of the lemon pith in the mix as it adds bitterness. Many people use a potato peeler to remove the zest from the lemons but I found that it wasn’t that hard to use a microplane grater or the fine side of a microplane box grater and to simply remove the zest. The surface area of the mix is a lot greater than the peeled versions, so the flavour of the zest should be intensified and it is easy to avoid getting any pith.

You are supposed to need pure alcohol. Many say that a combination of vodka and grain alcohol make the best mix, however, unless I build a still I will have to do with 100% proof (that is 50% alcohol) Vodka purchased at Duty Free as that is the strongest we can get in Australia.

Time means strength and smoothness. Leaving each stage for 30 to 40 days seems to be about right. The zest will be almost white when the essential oils have been leeched out and the flavour transferred to the alcohol. As hard as it seems, don’t rush it.


Makes about 2 wine bottles full of mix, could easily be doubled (or tripled)

  • Zest from 10 well washed lemons (if store bought a bit of a scrub would probably not hurt)
  • 3 cups 100% proof Vodka
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 cups filtered water

Put the lemon zest into a jar (I used an old Moccona jar) and pour in the vodka.

Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap to stop any alcohol from evaporating then put the lid on. Cover the jar, put the date on the bottle and the date in 40 days. Cover the bottle and give it a shake every few days for 30 to 40 days.

After removing the zest you end up with a bunch of naked lemons – I just threw them in the freezer. Frozen lemon juice is good for tabbouleh and hummus and the skin is not worth having so the naked lemons should be fine.

 In 30 to 40 days:

Strained mixture ready to be mixed with syrup

Strained mixture ready to be mixed with syrup

The zest is white when all of the oils have been leeched out.

The zest is white when all of the oils have been leeched out.

2nd strain through muslin

2nd strain through muslin

Mix the sugar and water together in a pan and bring to the boil, keeping it at a low simmer for 5 minutes, ensuring all of the sugar has dissolved, brush down the sides to remove any sugar crystals. Put it aside to cool – I put it in the freezer because I am not good at waiting.

Strain the zest mix through a fine sieve, then once again through a double layer of muslin (wet it first and squeeze dry). It wouldn’t hurt to run it through a coffee filter but I found that the double layer of muslin worked quite well. Add the liquid to the cooled sugar mix, bottle, seal and date. Put the bottles away and leave for another 30 to 40 days.

Enjoy ice cold or pour over sorbet for a totally awesome flavour shot.


This batch was made exactly the same as the limoncello above except that it was left for about 60 days before processing. At this stage it has only been 10 days since bottling but it has a more “honey” flavour than the limoncello although the alcohol taste is still evident. I can’t wait until Christmas when it should be just perfect.

I have now discovered that Cointreau is almost tangelocello – made with grain alcohol rather than vodka. Today we did a taste test and discovered that mixing my tangelocello 50 / 50 with brandy we got something very similar to Cointreau. That will be the last bottle of Cointreau that I buy. This is a bit smoother, but to my taste much better. Next tangelo season I will be making more of this.


This promises to also be very good. Made the same as the previous  mixes using the zest from limes.

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