Limoncello is not a brand name, rather it is a generic name for a slightly sweet, lemon flavoured liqueur made in Italy on the Amalfi coast near Naples.
Some brands are sweeter than others, some have a more bitter aftertaste.
It is a popular summertime drink. Some people store it in the freezer to serve it extra chilled.
It is made from lemons grown in Italy. Many families in the Napoli area make their own at home from handed-down recipes. Some people who make it at home without access to the real lemons say the secret is to add the peel from 1 lime.
If the Limoncello being sold is labelled “Limoncello di Sorrento PGI”, then it is being made under rules that must be followed according to the regulations of the PGI status that was granted to the liqueur.
This PGI version must be made from a special cultivar of pointed lemons, called “Sfusato Amalfitano”, grown on the Sorrentine peninsula (the southern side of the Gulf of Naples, named after Sorrento.) The lemons are shaded with straw mats to slow their ripening, and results in there being slightly under-ripened.
The lemons are picked in the afternoon and delivered to the factory the next morning where they are washed in water and sorted by hand.
The rinds are peeled off by machines, and put in vats of neutral-tasting grain alcohol for 3 to 5 days. The flavoured alcohol is then diluted with water, and sugar is added.
The mixture is then homogenized by machines for 40 minutes, then filtered, inspected and bottled.
Serve chilled. Drizzle on ice cream, strawberries or fruit salad. Classically, it is served cold, straight up, in a chilled glass.
1 litre vodka (ideally 50% alcohol, but as high a proof as you can get)
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
750 ml litre vodka (for last step)
Wash the citrus fruit, and zest it, being sure not to include any of the bitter white pith. Place into a large jar, bottle or container that can be well sealed (e.g with a screw top). Add the vodka. Seal the top on. Let sit for two weeks, shaking occasionally. Steeping has finished when the vodka doesn’t seem to be gaining any more colour or flavour from the lemon.
To finish, make a sugar syrup by simmering the water and sugar until it becomes a syrup. Let cool. Meanwhile, filter the vodka mixture into another jar or bottle, passing it through a fine-mesh strainer, or a double-layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Press the zest in the filter to press any last flavour out of it. Add the sugar syrup to the strained vodka, as well as the fresh 750ml bottle of vodka. Adjust taste by either adding additional sugar syrup to sweeten it, or bottled water to thin it. Store in sealed bottles in the fridge. Best used up with 3 to 4 weeks, while the flavour is still fresh.
Russo, Susan. Have Your Limoncello And Eat It, Too. National Public Radio. 28 July 2010. Retrieved August 2010 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128800809