“Una Della Famiglia” Limoncello

Posted on: April 10th, 2012 by Carla Johnson No Comments
Lemon zest

Photo courtesy of Anita Iaconangelo

“For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here’s a tip: why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness?”

~ Jack Handy, Saturday Night Live “Deep Thoughts” comedy sketch

Did you know? Italy grows more lemons than any other country in the world. Did you know? Lemons in Italy along the Amalfi coast are ginormous! I know. I’ve been lucky to see them.

Two years ago my family and I took a tour of Italy and Greece. It was my first time in Europe and I just loved it. Because the tour was fast-paced I promised myself I would return and spend more time in some of the places. One of those places was the island of Capri. It was on Capri that we bought several bottles of limoncello.

Limoncello is sold in all kinds of small, interesting shaped bottles and it is delicious!

Carla Johnson "Cooking With Sin"

My friend Connie Campbell, from the post “Good Neighbour” Gluten-Free Beer Braised Beef, recently introduced me to Anita Iaconangelo. Anita is from Washington D.C., but now lives in Italy and owns “Italian Connection” tour company. She specializes in walking and culinary tours, taking people to special places most tours speed right on by. She calls herself, “an Italian free spirit trapped in an American businesswoman’s body.”

Of her life in Italy, Anita says,

Life in Italy is a love-hate thing. I admit to being seduced by Tuscany’s magical golden light, besotted by the Renaissance, tantalized by Sicily’s sensuous pastry shops, charmed by the Italian language and then quickly disenchanted by the brutal reality of getting almost anything done. I’ve suffered heartless years of waiting for an insurance claim, submitted to diabolical rules for getting a driving license, and wept broken-hearted sobs when the plumber never called back. The tempting dream to live in Italy may sound like a romantic endeavor, but it helps to be nuts.

If I am ever lucky enough to return to Italy, I hope to connect with Anita. She promises to take her guests off the beaten track to discover the Italy of the Italians and share the best of Italian food and wine. She treat her guests like una della famiglia—one of the family.

Cooking With Sin

Photo courtesy of Anita Iaconangelo

Anita has a blog “Anita’s Italy” where she posts her favourite Italian recipes and food tips. She has several lemon recipes: Limoncello, Lemon Cake from Sicily and Lemon Granita.

Limoncello is a very simple recipe. It is just lemon peel soaked in alcohol and sweetened with sugar syrup, but take note of the details so it is clear and tastes wonderful.

“Una Della Famiglia” Limoncello

10-12 lemons

1L (4 cups) pure ethyl alcohol (95%)

600 grams (3 cups) sugar

2L water (8.5 cups) water


  1. Rinse, wipe & dry the lemons so no residual dirt and wax remain on them.
  2. Zest the lemons peel being sure to only use the yellow peel. The white part will make the flavour bitter.
  3. In a large glass container, with a lid that seals well, put the lemon zest and cover with the alcohol. Put the lid on tightly.
  4. Place the container in a cool dark place for a month. Occasionally check it and swirl the zest and alcohol together. The alcohol will start to turn yellow in only a few days. After a month of sitting you are ready for the final steps.
  5. Bring the water to a simmer in a large pot then pour in the sugar and stir until it completely dissolves. Set it aside to cool.
  6. Using a fine sieve, strain the alcohol and zest mix, then strain it again through a paper towel or filter. *Tip – Anita lines her strainer with dampened paper towel or several layers of cheesecloth and places it over a wide mouth jar or funnel.
  7. Place the strained alcohol back in the large glass container and mix in the cool sugar/water syrup.
  8. Seal the jar and put it back in the cool, dark place for at least a week or another month.
  9. If it is cloudy, you will need to filter it again.
  10. Taste your limoncello. You can add more sugar/water syrup if it needs to be sweetened. Bottle it when you like the taste. If you use small bottles, it makes a nice gift.
  11. Limoncello often mellows with time, so the longer you keep it, the nicer it tastes. Mmm…


a) If you can’t get 95% ethyl alcohol, get the closest thing and adjust the water content.

b) The left over lemons can be juiced. Fresh lemon juice is great for iced tea or cocktails. It can also be frozen until needed.


Inspired by Anita’s post://blog.italian-connection.com/living-in-italy/limoncello-recipe-make-homemade-limoncello


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