Though not centuries-old or handed down from generation to generation, this limoncello recipe is an authentic product of Italian tradition. Angela Pugliese, an Italian immigrant by way of Uruguay, recreated the Southern Italian liqueur in her South Philadelphia kitchen after visiting family in Milan. It has since become her finest culinary wampum, traded for favors done by neighbors up and down the block. The structure is simple resulting in a sweet and creamy digestif thanks to a spare combination of lemons, sugar, whole milk and high-proof grain alcohol.
Yield: four 750 ml bottles
- 8 lemons, large
- 4 pounds sugar, white
- 2 liters whole milk
- 1 liter Everclear
- 1 ounce vanilla powder
- Using a microplane, zest all the lemons, careful to not remove any of the bitter white pith.
- Add lemon zest to grain alcohol and let steep in a cool, dark place for two weeks.
- In a large pot, combine the milk and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat, cover and store somewhere cool overnight.
- When the milk-and-sugar mixture has cooled, add the vanilla powder and infused alcohol. Stir and let sit for one hour.
- Strain the limoncello into four clean 750 ml bottles. Store in the fridge or freezer.