Piano, Piano with Limoncello Part 1

April 6, 2010

There is an Italian saying that simple goes: “Piano, Piano.” No, it doesn’t mean go play the piano or you see a piano and scream its name. “Piano, Piano” stands for doing things with care, taking time to do something in an organized manner and/or slowly, so the ending result can be perfect. This procedure of doing things with care and with time in one’s hands can be put into action when one decides to make limoncello.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in the Southern part of Italy from the Sorrento lemon (any lemon would suffice). Limoncello is traditionally served chilled after dinner as a digestivo. The great thing about limoncello is that any one could make their own limoncello from the comfort of their home. You don’t have to have Sorrento lemons and you don’t have to be from the Southern part of Italy to be able to make limoncello. The only thing that requires you to have in the process of making limoncello is “Piano, Piano”; patience and time.

Ingredients and Utensils:

15 medium/large sized Lemons

One bottle of Everclear 750mL (if everclear is not available is your area, vodka would work just fine)

750 grams of sugar

750 mL of water

One air sealed container could roughly fit 1.5 liters of liquid.

One container that could roughly fit 2 liters of liquid.

A funnel.

One pan to boil and make simple syrup.

A sharp knife


1.     With a sharp knife, cut the peel out of the 15 lemons. In this step you have a couple of options regarding the white pit of the lemons. If you like a bitter flavor in your limoncello, leave a very thin layer of white pit on your lemon peels. If you don’t like a bitter flavor on your limoncello, cut out as much of the white pit as possible.

Lemon Peels

2.     After you’ve completely peeled the lemons, you are left with 15 lemons without a peel. You can juice the lemons and freeze the juice for any further drinks you might make in the future. Also, another good idea is using the juice of the 15 lemons and make a delicious lemonade, now that summer is just ahead of us.

3.     Place the peels of the 15 lemons in the air sealed container with the bottle (750mL) of Everclear (or vodka). Seal the container and place it in a cool and dark place. Here is where the saying “Piano, Piano” comes into play. You can’t rush this process. Some people leave the peels to infuse with the everclear for only a week. That is not enough time for all of the oils from the peels get acquainted with the liquid. If you are making limoncello for the first time, I recommend leaving the infusion in a cold, dark place between 3-4 weeks, stirring it 2 or 3 times a week. The end result will be a delicious bomb of lemon flavor.

Note: As you can tell, not all of the ingredients and utensils were used in this post. Wait for Part 2 to find out how to use the rest of the ingredients and utensils.