This famous lemon liquor has grown popular worldwide, and nowadays, is produced all over Italy. However, the origins of the drink are hard to pin down, and although the story claims that it originates from the South, no one knows exactly how or when it was invented. Some say limoncello dates back to medieval times, some say much more recently – only 150-200 years old. Naturally, many also debate who was the first to concoct the recipe, but ask any Italian, and they will probably tell you it was their great-great-grandmother!
Having said that, the legends lead to the region of Campania as the original birthplace of limoncello. What we know for sure is that it was served in Capri to the guests of the hotel owned by a family of Canale in the 19th Century. It was their homemade lemon after-food digestive and it became extremely popular. The trademark ‘limoncello’ was registered by Canale in 1988, and they still are the owners of the biggest limoncello production company.
The south of Italy and especially the coast areas are covered with lemon trees, which in winter become even prettier than Christmas trees, all covered in juicy yellow lemons. Not only every region, but every village and likely every household have their own secret of making limoncello. The basic recipe seems simple: you mix the lemon zest in alcohol for a few days, then add sugar and water. But here comes the hardest question – how long should the zest stay in alcohol? The answers vary from 3 to 90 days, and the rule “the longer the better” doesn’t apply here.
Limoncello is traditionally served ice cold. The bottles are kept in a freezer and the drink is served in small shots to sip and enjoy on a hot summer day after lunch. And if you are not acquired to the slightly bitter taste, try the mild version – crema di limoncello – it’s limoncello with a dash of milk to even out the acidity. Having tried all options, you will definitely know what to do if life gives you lemons! 🙂