Amalfi Coast lemons (Sfumato d’Amalfi) are an iconic symbol of the lure and special nature of this beautiful region of Italy. The locals will tell you how their sun-kissed land, rich soil, and closeness to the sea are what allows for their prized lemon to thrive and grow to perfection. Many people may not know this but sfumato d’Amalfi lemons were not indigenous to the Amalfi Coast. They are a more recent discovery, most likely introduced by Middle Eastern merchants to the area. As the story goes, these tradespeople brought their lemons with them when they traded with the locals. Italian farmers were fascinated with this new citrus fruit but complained about the tart taste. By the 11th century, local farmers began to cross-cultivate their native oranges with these lemons brought to the area. Their innovative farming tactics led to the creation of the now world-famous Amalfi Coast lemons.
The lemons were sweeter than their counterparts and they had a very fragrant and appealing yellow zest. These special characteristics made them ideal for savory and sweet recipes. Even the sailors of the day used these “new lemons” to fight off scurvy and seasickness while at sea. Interestingly enough nobody has ever managed to cultivate true Amalfi lemons in other regions of Italy or abroad. As a result, this fragrant fruit remains an Amalfi Coast specialty. One of the most well-known things that are made with sfumato d’Amalfi is limoncello. This bitter-sweet liquor is adored around the world. It is something that nearly every guest that travels with us will take a bottle or two home with them. There is nothing more authentic than the vibrant limoncello of the Amalfi Coast.
The Origin Story of Italian Liqueur Limoncello
Limoncello became popular in the early 1900s, though nobody knows who actually invented this refreshing liquor. Traditional stories point to the local nobility who served it to their special and honorable guests after dinner. Other sources mention varying stories of fishermen and monks who took their version of limoncello with them during long voyages. In spite of the different stories, the purpose remains the same. Limoncello was used to impress guests, boost immunity, and rejuvenate field workers, fishermen, and travelers alike. The tradition continues to this very day as modern generations drink it to beat the heat and as a digestive after a meal.
Limoncello Recipe: How to Make This Citrus Drink?
There are countless numbers of limoncello recipes. Our recipe comes from a local family in Campania that shared their cherished recipe with us. As complicated as you might think it is to make homemade limoncello it’s really very simple. It is only a three-ingredient recipe that involves a simple process that works well at home or in a professional restaurant setting. Limoncello is always best when served chilled with no ice or any other additives.
How Long Can You Store Homemade Limoncello?
This lemon liquor lasts for months thanks to its high alcohol. The vodka used to make limoncello is what gives it a long shelf life and also inhibits any bad bacteria from developing as it ages in unopened bottles.
Impress Your Guests | Refreshing Homemade Limoncello Recipe
Serves: 4-5 people
- 10 organic sfumato d’Amalfi lemons or the best organic lemons that you can find.
- 1 bottle of vodka (750-ml)
- 1-4 cups of sugar, adjust according to taste.
Phase 1: Infuse the Alcohol
1. Peel lemons to remove outer yellow skin and trim away large sections of pith. Use a paring knife
to scrape off the pith, ensuring that the fleshy fruit remains intact.
2. Mix lemon peels with vodka in a jar/jug (preferably 1-quart).
Cover the mixture tightly to prevent air from entering the container.
4. Set aside, away from direct sunlight. There is no need to put it in the refrigerator at this point.
5. Let the mixture infuse for 4-5 days (or up to one month).
Tip: The longer you store it during this phase, the more lemony your drink becomes.
Phase 2: Make Sugar Syrup
1. Pour lemon-infused vodka through a strainer to remove piths. Stir the liquid and use the back of
a spoon to squeeze out all the juice from the strainer.
2. Mix equal parts (1 to 1 ratio) of water and sugar in a saucepan. Taste and adjust sugar/water quantity according to your preference. The more water you pour, the more diluted your homemade limoncello becomes.
3. Place the pot over a medium flame and simmer the mixture while you stir it for 5-7 minutes.
4. Take the syrup off the heat once all sugar dissolves.
5. Set aside to cool.
6. Once cooled mix the sugar syrup with the lemon-infused vodka. Taste again to adjust flavor.
7. Fill glass bottles with limoncello. Let the mixture sit for 4-5 days or up to one month before using it.
Enjoying Your Homemade Limoncello
1. Before using it is best to refrigerate it for a few hours before serving.
2. Homemade limoncello makes for an excellent gift and impressive addition to cocktail parties. You can also use it as a much looked forward to digestive after a meal.
3. It can also be used to add zesty flavor to desserts, and many savory recipes as well.
Final Tasty Tip: Whatever your intention, remember to use organic lemons to achieve the best taste.