When Life Hands You Lemons …

… make limoncello!

Hello and welcome to Week 23. This is going to be a pretty short post, because making homemade limoncello is REALLY easy.

Channel Your Inner Steve Earle
I used the recipe from a book that I’ve raved about in earlier posts: Karen Solomon’s “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It”. Here’s the basics:

  • Get some lemons, some vodka and a two-quart mason jar.
  • Put on “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle. (My idea. Don’t blame Karen.)
  • Put some vodka in the jar.
  • Take the peels off the lemons and throw them into the jar.
  • Leave it alone for awhile.
  • Take the peels out and put in some simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
  • Leave it alone for awhile more.
  • Strain the limoncello and start making fabulous cocktails like the one below.

Yes, It’s THAT Simple
In only slightly more time than it takes to sing “seeds from Colombia, Mexico-oh!”, you can be the proud maker of a hip summer liqueur. (And when you’re tired of the hillbilly moonshine vibe, take it out of the mason jar and put it into a nice retro swing-top bottle.)

The Start of Many, Many Cocktails

The perfect end to a sultry summer afternoon

The perfect end to a
sultry summer afternoon

If you spend a few moments with Google, you’ll find literally dozens of recipes for cocktails that involve limoncello. I thought the Limoncello Gin Cocktail from theKitchn (now my new favourite cooking blog) sounded perfect. Plus, in the true spirit of life hacking, it was ridiculously easy to make.

My fellow taste tester and I both loved the thirst-quenching action of this cocktail, but we felt that the gin was a little overpowering. This might have been the brand we used (Bombay Sapphire). I tried a variation with Tanqueray, which helped, but I would still recommend adding an extra half-ounce of limoncello to sweeten things up.

I’d like to do a larger-scale taste test between my limoncello and the store-bought version, but that would probably involve bringing it to work with me. Sadly, workplace alcohol consumption is not considered a good idea in the professional library world.

Dollars and Cents
Now, the money angle. This recipe took half of a 750 ml bottle of Absolut, which I got on sale for $20.99. The lemons cost a total of $6.32, and I had the sugar for simple syrup already in the house.

I ended up with a little less than 750 ml of finished product for $16.82. The same size of store-bought limoncello costs $25.99. That’s a savings of $9.17 for a nice little cha-ching! (Since we’ve included the cost of “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It” in a previous post, we won’t add it in again.)

Of course, you can’t put a price on how hip and European you’ll feel, dishing ice-cold limoncello shots to your friends on a scorching summer day.

“Ah yes!” they’ll exclaim. “[Your name here] is always so hip and European.”

You, of course, will just smile and pass the bottle over for seconds.

And We Are Done
That’s it! Tune in next time, when we celebrate the final long weekend of the summer (and the tiny island of Bermuda) with homemade ginger beer. Remember, if you’ve got questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or drop me a line at librarylifehack [at] gmail.com. Until we meet again, I hope you have a great week — and maybe even a summery cocktail!


2 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lemons …

  1. Hey Miss Sally, have my own lemons growing so can make it even cheaper, and will have to try this recipe when my next crop of lemons are ready to pick…. may have to save some to celebrate when/if you ever get to this part of the world.


    • Lucky you! I bet homegrown lemons would taste even fresher and more wonderful in this. I think we should make that a “when” I get to that part of the world. Glad to see that you are safely back home and many hugs across the miles.


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