Limoncello, Arancello Rosso, and Pompelmocello

By 6 m read
Limoncello - So delicious! Can't decide which is my favorite! (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
So delicious! Can’t decide which is my favorite! (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Even now I miss Italy dearly, I dream about it every night.”  ~Eila Hiltunen

 

3 Drinks that will Take Your Heart & Taste Buds on a Trip to Italy

Ten years ago, Erich & I went on vacation to the Tuscany region of Italy. Oh, it was so beautiful and the food was amazing. Pasta, pasta, and more pasta. And olive oil. And the history, oh my God, the beautiful buildings. And gelato…don’t even get me started on gelato. And the wine. Oh, I could talk about Italy for days…

 

During our trip, I also discovered that Florence is one of my favorite cities in the world. At dinner one evening, after filling ourselves with bread and pasta and wine, the waiter brought us a complementary digestif, an after-dinner drink…and thus began my love affair with Limoncello.

 

If you’ve never tried Limoncello, I must insist that you do so as soon as possible. Limoncello is a traditional Italian drink and is often served as an apéritif (before dinner) or digestif (after dinner) in a 1- to 2-oz glass, ice cold (but not over ice), and is meant to be sipped (it’s not a shot). It is such a heavenly blend of sweet-tart deliciousness, with a bright yellow translucent appearance and a thick, almost syrupy texture as a result of being kept in the freezer at all times. We always have a bottle in our freezer anyway…doesn’t everyone?!

 

Now that we’ve occasionally sipped Limoncello after dinner for years, we decided to try to make our own. We’d read that it’s a fairly simple, straightforward process, so off we went on our own little Italian adventure at home.  

 

But why stop there?  

While we’re making Limoncello anyway…why not also try making a different “cello?” Using ruby-red grapefruit and blood oranges too?  So we did! And now we’re going to share our recipes with you!

Limoncello - Getting ready for their second life as a cocktail (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Getting ready for their second life as a cocktail (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Ingredients

  • 750-mL bottle of 190-proof Everclear
  • 4-1/2 c simple syrup
    AND
  • 12 lemons (for Limoncello)
    OR
  • 6 blood oranges (for Arancello Rosso)
    OR
  • 3 large ruby-red grapefruits (for Pompelmocello)

 

Materials

  • Mason jars
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cheesecloth
  • Funnel
  • Mesh sieve

 

Everclear vs Vodka

While you may see some recipes that call for vodka, we recommend using 190-proof Everclear instead. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT drink this stuff straight or even as a regular mixer…it’s very powerful and can be very dangerous! (If, however, 190-proof Everclear is not available, you may use a lower-proof Everclear or vodka, but you may need to adjust this recipe and add less simple syrup to the finished product.)

 

The reason Everclear works better for “cellos” is because once the fruit & alcohol have finished steeping for 4 weeks (yes, 4 weeks!), you’ll be mixing it together with simple syrup, which will reduce the abv (alcohol by volume). You want your “cello” to thicken up in the freezer, but certainly don’t want it to actually freeze (which can happen if the abv is too low).

 

How to make Simple Syrup

If you’ve never made simple syrup before, take my word for it…it’s realllllly simple. Just combine a 1:1 mixture of regular white sugar and water in a pot and simmer, stirring occasionally for a few minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

 

Peeling Fruit

As you’re going to be using the outer fruit zest for this recipe, it’s best to use organic fruit when possible (no harmful pesticides on the skins). If you can’t get your hands on organic fruit, then please make sure you clean and scrub your fruit thoroughly before peeling. Actually, you’ll want to scrub it, whether it’s organic or not.

 

The first step in making a “cello” is to peel your fruit…not in the way you’re thinking though! You don’t want to remove the whole peel, but just the very outer skin (the zest). Unlike regular zesting, where you just scrape tiny bits of the peel using a grater…for this recipe you’ll be using a vegetable peeler, peeling the zest into long wide strips.  

Limoncello - Peeled zest (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Peeled zest (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Remove as much of the white pith as possible, as this will make your “cello” taste bitter. You can easily remove the pith by holding the peel flat on the countertop & scraping the white pith off with the cutting edge of a knife.

Limoncello - Scraping white pith off of zest (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Scraping white pith off of zest (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Steeping Fruit Zest & Alcohol

Place all of your zest into a mason jar and add Everclear. Close the jar tightly and keep in a cool, dry, dark place for 4 weeks.  

Limoncello - See you again in 4 weeks (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
See you again in 4 weeks (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve very patiently waited 4 whole weeks for your fruit zest to steep, it’s time to open up those jars.  

Limoncello - Alcohol after steeping zest for 4 weeks (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Alcohol after steeping zest for 4 weeks (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth and hold it over top of a container large enough to hold the liquid. Pour the alcohol over the sieve and collect the zest in the cheesecloth.  

Limoncello - Pouring steeped alcohol through cheesecloth & sieve (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Pouring steeped alcohol through cheesecloth & sieve (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Give the cheesecloth a good squeeze with your hands, to get every possible drop of alcohol out of the zest.

Limoncello - Pouring steeped alcohol & zest over cheesecloth & sieve (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Pouring steeped alcohol & zest over cheesecloth & sieve (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Using a funnel, pour your steeped alcohol into a bottle and add 4-1/2 c simple syrup. Taste it. You may need to adjust this recipe to your own personal taste. Keep in the freezer and serve 1- to 2-oz drinks ice cold. Please drink responsibly.

Limoncello - Mixing the Arancello Rosso (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Mixing the Arancello Rosso (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Love delicious recipes? Check out a few more of our recipes now:

 

Did you make this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Do your friends enjoy “cellos” too? Share this article with them and let us know what you all think by commenting below!

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Limoncello - So delicious! Can't decide which is my favorite! (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Limoncello, Arancello Rosso, and Pompelmocello

While we’re making Limoncello anyway…why not also try making a different “cello?” Using ruby-red grapefruit and blood oranges too?  So we did! 
Prep Time 30 d
Total Time 30 d
Servings 1 liters

Equipment

  • Mason jar
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cheesecloth
  • Funnel
  • Mesh sieve

Ingredients
  

  • 750 mL bottle of 190-proof Everclear
  • 4-1/2 c simple syrup
  • 12 lemons (for Limoncello) OR 6 blood oranges (for Arancello Rosso) OR 3 large ruby-red grapefruits (for Pompelmocello)

Instructions
 

Peeling Fruit

  • Clean and scrub fruit thoroughly before peeling.
  • Unlike regular zesting, where you just scrape tiny bits of the peel using a grater…for this recipe you’ll be using a vegetable peeler, peeling the zest into long wide strips.
  • Remove as much of the white pith as possible, as this will make your “cello” taste bitter. You can easily remove the pith by holding the peel flat on the countertop & scraping the white pith off with the cutting edge of a knife.

Steeping Fruit Zest and Alcohol

  • Place all of your zest into a mason jar and add Everclear. Close the jar tightly and keep in a cool, dry, dark place for 4 weeks.

Simple Syrup

  • Combine a 1:1 mixture of regular white sugar and water in a pot and simmer, stirring occasionally for a few minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Putting It All Together

  • After 4 weeks of steeping, line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth and hold it over top of a container large enough to hold the liquid. Pour the alcohol over the sieve and collect the zest in the cheesecloth. Give the cheesecloth a good squeeze with your hands, to get every possible drop of alcohol out of the zest.
  • Using a funnel, pour your steeped alcohol into a bottle and add 4-1/2 c simple syrup. Taste it. You may need to adjust this recipe to your own personal taste.
  • Keep in the freezer and serve 1- to 2-oz drinks ice cold. Please drink responsibly.
  • **See notes in article regarding Everclear vs vodka: https://maplewoodroad.com/food/limoncello-recipe/

Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

 

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2 Comments
  • Dana
    June 10, 2019

    Been making limoncello for years. You can basically make it out of anything that has essential oils, so I’ve made it from citrus (Meyer lemons, Mandarin oranges, etc) or you can combine with oily herbs like rosemary. In fact, you can even make it from only herbs. I once made a batch from bay leaves (which I learned from the owner of an osteria in Florence). Experiment!

    • maplewoodroad
      June 18, 2019

      Awesome, thanks for the tip! We’ll definitely keep experimenting! 🙂