When Life Gives You Lemons, Give Them to Me!

Happy National Limoncello Day! No seriously, it is. I know it sounds silly, and it may be. There are so many of these food and other “holidays” that it could start to make you apathetic about celebrating the ones that really count. Well, this one counts, for me at least. Lemon is my favorite dessert flavor and limoncello is my liquor/liqueur of preference. I add it to champagne, iced tea, lemonade and put it on strawberries. Have you tried it on vanilla ice cream? OMG!!  Do you know how easy it is to make you own limoncello? Four ingredients and a little patience are all you need. I’ve included a basic recipe and instructions below.

lemonsWhat if alcohol is not your thing, but lemons are? We actually have several cookbooks that concentrate on citrus fruits and lemons in particular, including…

The Lemon Lovers Cookbook by Peg Bailey – Believe it or not, this book contains more savory lemon recipes than sweet. My favorite section was the Lemon Pantry chapter, which included instructions for making lemon syrup, oil, vinegar, pepper, sugar, butter, chutney, marmalade and more!

Lemons: Growing, Cooking, Crafting by Kate Chynoweth and Elizabeth Woodson – Fascinating facts about lemons and their lore, yummy recipes, and homemade lemon lip balm, cold remedies, and cleaning products. The almighty lemon can do anything!

Lemons: A Country Garden Cookbook by Christopher Idone – I adore the artfully arranged, full-color photographs on each page of this lovely cookbook. Each chapter is pared down to a handful of essential lemon recipes. And fried lemon fritters? Yes, please!

Lemon Zest: More than 175 Recipes with a Twist by Lori Longbotham – Lemon recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, including stocking up your pantry with lemon flavored items. The highlight of this book, however, is the 30+ recipes for lemonade.

Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham – TWO lemon cookbooks by the same author?!? I think I found my new favorite person…

bookcoverWant to try growing your very own lemon tree? Yes, you can, even in our climate. It just has to move indoors for the winter. I found this book to be very helpful when learning how to grow citrus trees for personal use — Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere by Laurelynn G. Martin and Byron E. Martin. We started our own Meyer lemon tree from seed last summer. So far it has grown to about 4 inches tall. Now, if we can just keep the cats away from it!

Stay Sour My Friends!
Melissa M.

Homemade Limoncello

Quantities in this are not exact. Everyone makes it to their own tastes, so you’re going to need to experiment to find your personal recipe. (You mean I need to make multiple batches? Darn!)


1 bottle (750 ml) of vodka -unflavored, 75-100 proof, but brand and expense is up to you

6-10 lemons, washed and dried (stickers removed!)

2 ½-4 cups sugar

3 ½-5 cups water


1. Empty vodka into a large jar or pitcher.

2. Peel the lemons, being careful to remove only the yellow layer, leaving all the white pith behind.

3. Put all the lemon peels into the jar with the vodka, making sure they are submerged in the liquid.

4. Cover the jar/pitcher and put it in a cool, dark place to steep for 4-14 days. DO NOT keep opening the lid to check it and DO NOT stir!

5. When the steeping process is complete to your satisfaction, strain the vodka mixture to remove the lemon peels.

6. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, making sure all of the sugar is dissolved.

7. Let the sugar syrup cool completely.

8. Add the sugar syrup to the strained vodka mixture.

9. Store in lidded jars or bottles with caps in the freezer until ready to use.

This mixture will keep for months, but I can guarantee it won’t last that long!


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5 responses to “When Life Gives You Lemons, Give Them to Me!

  1. With ice cream sounds yummy! Thanks.

  2. ~xtian

    Lemons and port. Fuck Fortunato

  3. Rebekah

    I, too, am a fan of limoncello. Ciao Baby, a now closed restaurant in Downtown Pittsburgh (Market Square), had an imported frozen lemon dessert infused with limoncello- it was yummy. Of course, there is always lemon meringue pie!

  4. When I was around 16 I visited the limonchello factory (if that’s the right word) in Naples, and at the end of the tour, they give everyone a free shot. Not only did my parents not notice I’d been given one, but I discovered that I could double back on the last bit of the tour so as to seemingly finish the tour with the next group of people, and be given another shot… and again… and again…

    First hangover; last time I ever drank limonchello.

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