Limoncello – A Popular Italian Liqueur

Limoncello is the Second Most Popular Liqueur in Italy:

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On any travel to the south of Italy, a common sight is attractive yellow bottles of limoncello, many with eye-catching labels and gift packaging.  Limoncello is a traditional Italian lemon liqueur that is produced anywhere from Naples to Sorrento, Capri, the Amalfi Coast and even in Sicily. It is the second-most popular liqueur in Italy, even Danny Devito has his own limoncello brand.

So What is Limoncello

The origin of limoncello is the subject of a few legends, including one which claims that the limoncello recipe was first created inside monasteries where monks would enjoy this liqueur between prayers.  Where the liqueur was first created is lost amongst the many legends, but there is evidence of the Limoncello trademark being registered in 1900 from the Isle of Capri.

Limoncello is made by infusing lemon zest or peels in alcohol for about two months until oil is released. The lemon zest is aromatic and rich in essential oils.  The yellow liquid is then mixed with syrup. Traditionally, the zest of Sorrento lemons are used, but most lemons will produce satisfactory limoncello. The optimal alcohol content for limoncello is considered to be about 31-32% so that so that the limoncello doesn’t freeze when you put it in the freezer..

Serving Limoncello

This lemon liqueur is usually served as an after-dinner digestif. It has to be served chilled or otherwise it tastes cloyingly sweet. Along the Amalfi Coast, limoncello is served in small ceramic glasses which have been chilled, keeping the liqueur cold, especially on balmy summer evenings.  You can also use limoncello on ice cream or with fruit salads.

Limoncello is now available in many countries. Companies like Villa Massa Limoncello export their limoncello to more than 42 countries across five continents.  But the best limoncello that I’ve tasted are the ones that are homemade. The grandfather of the owner of our local trattoria used to make them and you can’t beat the fresh lemon aroma of homemade limoncello.

The next best option is to taste limoncello in the place where they are produced and this we did on a visit to the Limonoro shop in Sorrento.

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