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Limoncello is a lemon liquor mainly produced in the Campania region (Naples’ area, the Sorrento Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast and the islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri). Nobody knows when and where it was created: most people believe it came from the island of Capri in the early 1900s where Maria Antonia Farace had a lush lemon garden. After WWII, Maria’s grandson opened a bar, and the specialty was his nonna’s lemon liquor. It was such a success that his son, Massimo Canale, registered the trademark and opened a small factory that produced limoncello in 1988.

Sorrento and Amalfi claim that it was invented there; in Sorrento tradition says that it came from wealthy families that resided there at the turn of the last century; in Amalfi they claim that it was invented there when they started cultivating lemons.

The main ingredient is Sorrento lemons’ peel: wash the lemons well in warm water, scrub them a little and peel them. Pour good quality Everclear alcohol in a jug and add the peel without the pith (the white part). Close it and put it in a dark place for one month. Keep it at room temperature. After a month, boil some water with sugar, let it cool off, add it to the jug with more alcohol, cover and put it away for six weeks. When ready, limoncello needs to be filtered, bottled, and placed in the freezer. 10 lemons, 2 ½ pounds of sugar, 6 cups of water, and 4 cups of Everclear alcohol (190 proof) make a bottle of limoncello.

Limoncello is an excellent digestive, and a perfect cocktail ingredient; it can be served cold in a chilled glass or at room temperature.

In the United States, commercial producers using California lemons, which comprise over 90% of lemon crops in the US, have introduced USA commercially made limoncello.


Homemade Limoncello by Mrs. Di Fiore. Photo by Nicola di Fiore.